Tapas to go? During an interview at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, José Andrés told Vanity Fair he’ll be involved with fast-food restaurants very soon.
“I’ve been saying for a while that more and more chefs, we need to be [better at] influencing how to feed the many,” says Andrés. “We only feed the few. I don’t mean only on hunger issues, which I love to see the food community very involved in, solving the hunger and obesity issues in America and overseas, but I believe there’s an opportunity for chefs to have more of a say in how we’re going to feed the vast majority of this planet. You achieve that through the fast-food restaurants.”
Andrés goes on to tell the interviewer how chefs such as Bobby Flay and Steve Ells (founder of Chipotle) have been able to run successful fast-food concepts coming from a cooking background, as opposed to a strictly corporate approach.
“So I’m going to tell you, José wants to contribute to that, creating a fast-food restaurant. Which one? I cannot tell you yet. But will you see me doing fast-food restaurants in the next year, year and a half? Yes.”
Andrés has long been involved in charities like DC Central Kitchen that provide meals to many, and has floated ideas about fast food in the past, including healthier options at sports stadiums. Andrés has already dipped his toes in the quick-grab waters with his food truck, Pepe, which will start serving Spanish flauta sandwiches and soups again soon after a winter hiatus. He also recently launched a José Andrés product line with items such as potato chips that could come in very handy in a fast-food setting. Can we expect drive-through gazpacho and the McHamburguesa in 2016? We’ll keep you posted.
Zentan chef Jennifer Nguyen will compete in the first episode of the new Food Network series Beat Bobby Flay, which airs March 3.
The premise of the show is a mix of the ingredient-based challenges on Iron Chef and Throwdown With Bobby Flay, in which he engages in a cookoff with chefs known for a signature dish such as a po’ boy or chili. The first round of the culinary competition features two toques who compete to create a dish using a secret ingredient of Flay’s choice. A special guest like Giada De Laurentiis or Scott Conant picks the best candidate to try to out-cook Flay in the final challenge. The visiting chef cooks his or her signature dish, which is only revealed to the celeb toque at the beginning of the round. If he fails to concoct a tastier version, the visitor can claim they “beat Bobby Flay”—though they still have to pack their knives and go.
The sneak peek episode pits Nguyen against chef Anthony Lamas of Seviche in Louisville, Kentucky. Celebrity judges include the star chef’s chef Jonathan Waxman and the Food Network’s Sunny Anderson. Tune in at 10 to cheer for the local toque.
If there’s one upside to this never-ending winter, it’s digging into warming comfort dishes such as Mike Isabella’s lamb chili. We’ve been addicted since Isabella concocted the recipe for G at the beginning of the season. The restaurant version draws from the whole-animal approach at the adjoining Kapnos, incorporating lamb offal. This home-cook-friendly version simply uses ground lamb but is no less unusual, with the addition of wild rice, chickpeas, and a spicy yogurt-harissa garnish.
G by Mike Isabella’s Lamb Chili
Serves 4 to 6
Prep time: 30 to 40 minutes
Cook time: 50 to 60 minutes
For the chili:
4 slices thick-cut bacon, ¼-inch dice
1 cup Anaheim or poblano peppers, small dice, seeds and stems removed
1 cup celery, small dice
1 cup yellow onion, small dice
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 pound ground lamb
½ cup beer, preferably DC Brau pale ale
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon cracked white pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground aleppo pepper, or if you can’t find it, an extra ½ teaspoon of cayenne
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon celery seed
¼ teaspoon ground mace or allspice
¾ cup wild rice (uncooked)
¾ cup canned chickpeas, rinsed under hot running water
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons harissa paste (available at Whole Foods)
2 tablespoons crushed Sriracha chickpeas (found in Asian markets)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 chunk of Kefalograviera or pecorino Romano cheese
In a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat, sauté bacon. After about 4 minutes, when it’s halfway cooked, add peppers, celery, onion, and garlic. Stir to coat with bacon fat. Sauté for an additional 3 to 4 minutes or until bacon is fully cooked and onions are translucent.
Add ground lamb to pot and stir to combine. Once meat is browned, add the beer. Scrape to deglaze the bottom of pot to release any brown bits. Add crushed tomatoes, salt, and all the spices. Stir to combine.
Bring the chili to a slight boil, cover with a lid, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
While the chili is simmering, cook rice according to package directions. Also combine yogurt and harissa paste; cover and refrigerate until later use.
Once chili is finished simmering, add cooked rice and chickpeas. Stir to combine, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, until thick.
Serve in individual bowls and garnish with crushed Sriracha chickpeas, scallions, freshly grated Kefalograviera cheese, and harrissa yogurt.
It’s been a busy few months for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, with the recent debuts of both Bluejacket Brewery/the Arsenal on the Capitol Riverfront and the Iron Gate in Dupont. Next up: the biggest and most ambitious Red Apron Butchery to date, joining sister shops in Union Market and the Mosaic District. While many of the old favorites grace the menu—including craveable sandwiches such as the meatball sub—there are plenty of new elements to look for when the eatery opens on Wednesday.
Tigelle breakfast sandwiches
The Penn Quarter location is the first to sell breakfast sandwiches, and they’re of a variety that’s virtually unknown in DC. Chef Nate Anda discovered Italian tigelle flatbreads while traveling in Tuscany, and imported molds to recreate the English muffin-esque rounds. The fresh breads are thinner and crispier than any Thomas’ creation, and Anda fills them with indulgent ingredients; think a “morning meatball” with redeye gravy, or a riff on the classic morning muffin slathered with maple butter and stuffed with house sausage, American cheese, and a fried egg. Completing the morning pickup: brews from Ceremony Coffee Roasters out of Annapolis.
Atomic Cheese Whiz and Vietnamese dogs
Yes, you’ll be able to order the Red Apron burger, offered here every day instead of just Friday. There’re also plenty of new options from Anda and co-chef Ed Witt, formerly of 701 and 8407 Kitchen. You might try a warm rare roast beef sandwich with house-made “atomic” Cheese Whiz and ranch aïoli or a rotating lineup of Red Apron hot dogs, like the Vietnamese-style spicy frank with Asian slaw and Thai chilies. Office workers who don’t have time to indulge in the “porkstrami” and a beer—or even wait for made-to-order items—can pick from a lineup of ready-to-grab cold sandwiches. Dinner is also a takeaway affair, with rotating items such as rotisserie chickens, racks of pork, and various side dishes.
The other half of the equation on D Street is the Partisan, the adjoining sit-down restaurant slated to open for dinner in a couple of weeks. During the day, half the restaurant’s dining room—about 45 seats—will be devoted to breakfast- and lunch-goers looking to linger over their sandwiches, bottled beers, or glasses of wine. The dining room will turn back over to Partisan in the evenings, but Red Apron’s butcher counter will remain open for ordering fresh cuts of meat and premade items from the deli case.
A chef’s pantry and a butcher case
Have you ever tried sweet potato vinegar? Now you can. A portion of the shop is devoted to the chefs’ favorite pantry items, including finishing salts and oils, spices, and culinary-nerd finds such as Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, Opinel folding knives, and Bathtub Gin preserves inspired by cocktails. Red Apron’s house rubs and brines are also available, and over in the refrigerated section you’ll find the full lineup of charcuterie and pâtés, sauces, stocks, and more. In the market for a giant hunk of dry-aged beef? Yes, you’ll find that too.
More to come
Once the shop is up and running, look for plenty of specials and new additions to the display case. Anda and Witt are currently working on a selection of fresh pastas. And of course, there’s that 80-plus-seat restaurant on the horizon, where you’ll be able to sample many of the meats Red Apron offers.
Red Apron Penn Quarter. 709 D St., NW. Open for breakfast Monday through Friday 7:30 to 11 and lunch Monday through Friday 11 to 2:30. Weekend menu hours are Saturday 9 to 2:30 and Sunday 9 to 5. Butcher counter hours are Monday through Friday 7:30 AM to 8 PM, Saturday 9 to 8, and Sunday 9 to 5.
Goodbye, Dino: Cleveland Park’s neighborhood Italian is closing after nine years, and is hosting a “last meal” party on Monday. Owner Dean Gold will cook up all the food left in the restaurant and serve it buffet-style, along with a cash bar. Tickets are $30, and the event starts at 5:30. The silver lining: The team’s new Shaw restaurant will open this year.
Beer dinner: Start the week on a beery note at Rustico Alexandria, which hosts a pairing dinner with Boulevard Brewing Company at 6:30 on Monday. Find an hors d’oeuvre and Single Wide IPA reception, followed by a four-course dinner matched with the brews ($50 per person).
East meets Brau: Sip local brews alongside Asian eats at a DC Brau pairing dinner on Wednesday at Zentan. The four-course dinner includes dishes such as hop-smoked pork belly and salmon crudo, each paired with a different beer. Reservations are $78 online, all-inclusive.
Sing for a cause: Cheap beer and a desire to do good will help you up on the karaoke stage at Hill Country, which hosts a musical benefit for the Fisher House Foundation on Wednesday starting at 8:30. Make a $20 donation during the usual live-band karaoke night and get a wristband for $2 Jell-O shots and happy hour pricing all night long, including $3 PBR and $5 margaritas. All proceeds go to the charity.
Kitchen tour: The Junior League of Washington teams up with Room & Board for a food-filled event on Thursday at 6. Check out the latest kitchen designs while snacking on bites from the likes of Hill Country and G by Mike Isabella. There’s also a silent auction with plenty of culinary prizes, such as a private wine tasting. Tickets are $35 online.
Vote with your stomach: Hank’s Oyster Bar gets into the political game, hosting a fundraiser on Thursday from 5:30 to 7 for delegate Heather Mizeur and her campaign for Maryland governor. You’ll find $1 beer and wine as well as free oysters, stuffed mushrooms, and other snacks. Suggested contributions start at $20 for young professionals.
Wine walk: You won’t need to train for Crystal City’s annual 1K Wine and Beer Walk on Saturday. “Racers” will navigate the course, stopping at “hydration stations” along the way for samples of beer or wine, plus snacks from local restaurants. Tickets are $40.
Bubbly and oysters: Head to BlackSalt on Saturday for a mid-afternoon sparkling-wine-and-oyster tasting from 3 to 5. The restaurant has partnered with Maryland’s Barren Island Oyster Company and Roederer Estate for the event, which features the vineyard’s bubbly and a variety of oyster preparations. Call BlackSalt or e-mail Jen Dyson at email@example.com for reservations ($70 per person).
Learn to cook, Peruvian-style: Ever wanted to whip up ceviche? Now you can after Del Campo’s cooking class on Saturday from noon to 3. The focus is Peruvian street fare, such as ajiaco, a meat stew, and piquarones, sweet potato doughnuts. Guests will sip South American cocktails with each dish. Tickets are $98.
Last year restaurateur Richard Sandoval announced plans to open Toro Toro, a pan-Latin steakhouse, at 1300 I Street, Northwest. The 140-seat space in Franklin Square will debut in March, joining local Sandoval eateries Masa 14, El Centro D.F., Ambar, La Sandia, and an upcoming Mexican spot in Shaw.
Those familiar with Sandoval’s restaurants will find similarities, such as a spacious outdoor area in the form of a 40-seat patio and a 70-seat lounge that hosts dancing on certain nights. The hedonistic brunch of bottomless brunch cocktails and small plates will be offered Saturday and Sunday, while you can also opt for the “rodizio experience” on weekdays with unlimited grilled meats carved tableside. Other dishes include ceviches, arepas, and other items meant to share.
Washington has always been known as a steakhouse town, but several restaurateurs are bringing Latin flair to the concept. Chef Victor Albisu spurred the trend with Del Campo’s debut last year, while Philadelphia-based restaurateur Jose Garces plans to launch an Argentinian-style version in the Loews Madison in the coming months. Better than “female-friendly” steakhouses? We think so.
Happy Monday, food truck followers! Ward off a case of the Mondays with grilled-chicken-and-bacon alfredo at Little Italy, seco de res (cilantro beef stew) from El Fuego, and tofu pad thai aboard Fojol Bros.
Boudin blanc partridge sausage at Restaurant Eve
The “lickety-split lunch” at the bar at this Old Town favorite is hands down one of the best dining deals in Washington: For just $14.98, pick any two items from a long list of starters, mains, desserts, and even a beer or glass of wine. But come early or late. The bar starts serving at 11:30 and is generally full before noon, meaning there’s a second seating at 12:45 or so. On a recent weekday lunch, I enjoyed a ham hock bean stew and a delicious partridge sausage on a potato roll, topped with cooked onions. Absolutely satisfying—and we were in and out in under an hour.
Fried cod and skordalia at Trapezaria
I’ve been impressed with this new Greek restaurant, and this is one of the dishes that shows the place at its best.
Think fish and chips, only about ten times lighter than what you usually find. Frying is seldom this immaculate—and of course then you’re usually paying Michel Richard prices. (This beauty goes for $9).
I love the delicate crunch. I love how moist and sweet the cod stays inside.
And the skordalia dip in the center of the plate—a whipped “chip,” if you will—adds a nice hit of lemon, as well as a subtle garlicky kick.
Stone crabs at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, and Stone Crab
Nearly every year, my best friend and I take a long-weekend trip to Miami. And besides spending a few hours too long in the hammam and paying far too much for a coconut/date smoothie by the pool at the Standard, the thing I look forward to most on those trips is a stop at Joe’s Stone Crab. Sure, there are far more interesting places to seek out in that town. But there’s something wonderfully nostalgic about the gruff servers, the tangy, mixed-at-the-table coleslaw, and of course, those stone crabs with the creamy-sweet mustard sauce that tastes the same as it ever did.
Now, there’s no flight necessary—DC is home to a flashy new Joe’s housed in a soaring former bank. The marble-encrusted setting gives the place a distinct Old Washington feel, but beyond that, the tastes will be familiar to anyone who’s been to the original—with terrific mojitos, a bread basket you can’t stop eating, and pay-through-the-nose plates of chilled crab claws.
Stone crabs, in season from October through May, are easier to deal with than blue crabs. The claws arrived pre-cracked, and the hunks of meat can be pried out easily, so there are no flying bits of shell or need for wet-naps. At its best (it’s easy to find bland, dried stone crabs in these parts), the meat is juicy and sweet, almost like lobster, but with a denser, crabbier texture. It doesn’t need much—just a squeeze of lemon would be fine. But a dip in Joe’s addictive mustard-and-mayo sauce makes it even better.
Smoked salmon from Three Little Pigs
I love smoked salmon and bagels, and not just for brunch. The dish is often my weeknight “in a pinch” dinner, cheffed up a little with caper berries, thin-sliced cucumbers, and fresh dill (come summer I sub in sweet tomatoes and olives, a surprisingly delicious combination stolen from Daniel Boulud). The quality of the smoked fish and bagel really make the meal, but even though Washington isn’t Bagel City USA, the salmon is typically the rogue factor. Packaged brands like Ducktrap River at Whole Foods are typically reliable, but not distinctive like a fresh-sliced piece of lox from Russ & Daughters in New York. Thankfully I stumbled on the Three Little Pigs stand at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market. The smell of the warm pulled-pork sandwiches drew me over, but instead of barbecue I left with a neat brown package of spiced smoked salmon. My quick dinner the next night was the best salmon bagel I’ve had since moving from Manhattan (granted, with some Big Apple assistance from Buffalo & Bergen bagels). Three Little Pigs cures fresh Atlantic salmon with rum and a heady mix of nutmeg, allspice, and cloves before smoking it over hickory. The ingredients sound overwhelming, but they complement the fish’s natural strong flavor without overwhelming it. If you can’t wait for market Sundays, try the Georgia Avenue shop.
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