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Tuesday, June 24, at 11 AM
Where can you get a three-star experience at one-star prices? Which hot new restaurant merits the scorching hype? The answer to all these questions and more can be found Tuesdays at 11 AM on Kliman Online. Host Todd Kliman

Editor’s Note: Washingtonian Online moderators and hosts retain editorial control over chats and choose the most relevant questions; hosts can decline to answer questions.

Published June 17, 2014

Where can you get a three-star experience at one-star prices? Which hot new restaurant merits the scorching hype? The answer to all these questions and more can be found Tuesdays at 11 AM on Kliman Online.

From scoping out scruffy holes in the wall to weighing the merits of four-star wanna-bes, from scouring the 'burbs and exurbs to hitting the city's streets, Todd Kliman covers a lot of territory.

Winner of a James Beard Foundation Award in 2005 for the country's best newspaper column about food, Kliman is food and wine editor and restaurant critic for The Washingtonian. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper'sThe Oxford American, Lucky Peach, The Daily Beast and Men's Health, among others, and he has been selected four times for inclusion in the Best Food Writing anthologies. He was a finalist for the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award, and recently took home first-place honors for feature writing from the Association of Food Journalists.

Kliman is the author of The Wild Vine, a literary exploration of two entwined mysteries: an obscure grape that rose to prominence, only to disappear, and its present-day evangelist, a foul-mouthed transgendered multi-millionaire vintner on an obsessive quest to restore the legend of an antebellum southern doctor.

He previously taught writing and literature at American University and Howard University. At Howard, he was also the editorial advisor to The Illtop Journal, Chris Rock's humor magazine modeled after the Harvard Lampoon.

Can't wait a week to talk to Todd? Follow him on Twitter for dining reports, tips, and breaking news from the culinary world. Or write to him: tkliman@washingtonian.com

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 * The Rogue Gentlemen, Richmond

Yes, I know Richmond is two-plus hours away. I’m adding it this week because a) it’s summer and people are lighting out on long trips and b.) I had one of the best meals I’ve eaten all year there, and would gladly get back in my car and drive two-plus hours to return. I love the space, which is not much bigger than some living rooms — it has the air of a place hiding from those too conventional to understand. I love the cocktails, fashioned from obscure, high-quality spirits and mixed with laborious care. And I love the cooking, which is far more composed, beautiful and exacting than you would expect of a place like this. A plate of roasted beets with salmon roe, parsley and turnip creme fraiche — unimprovable, one of the best preparations of beets I’ve had in years — would not have been out of place at Jean-Georges. A roasted foie gras with crushed pistachios and pickled sour cherries was just as glorious, a sensuous essay in textures; it was easy to imagine it on the menu at CityZen, though not for $15. Prices are eye-poppingly cheap. The most stunning value on the menu is the rib eye. Basted with butter and thyme and drenched with a sauce of Overholt Rye and black peppercorn, it’s a thoughtfully reimagined twist on steak au poivre. It comes with two cuts of meat (including the prized culotte, or cap), a shank of roasted bone marrow and delicately carved baby carrots (the marrow and the carrots are a perfect combination themselves). All this for $21. Bravo to the wonderfully fruitful (and apparently seamless) partnership between owner John Maher and chef Aaron Hopkins.

* Nainai’s Noodle and Dumpling Bar, Silver Spring

It’s a pain to park — options are limited along this stretch of East-West Highway between Georgia and Colesville, and you may be forced to dock your car in the garage around the corner for $5. I did, both times, and both times I walked in in something less than the spirit of having a good time. And both times the cooking picked me up. The dumplings are good, not great (get the Year of the Pig, stuffed with juicy ground pork), but even a good not great dumpling is a pretty wonderful thing. The steamed, stuffed buns vary in quality, and the meats inside are a touch dry. Focus on the noodle bowls, which feature hand-pulled noodles (notice the ends, which are uniformly not uniform — some are fat, some thin). I like the Pai Gow, topped with ground pork, chili oil, bean sprouts, mustard greens, toasted garlic and ground peanuts, and the Mahjong Noodles, tossed with sesame paste, peanut butter, cucumbers, carrots, bean sprouts and chili oil. To drink: a bottle of DC Brau or Port City Porter.

* Wild Country Seafood, Eastport

I hesitate to include this, if only because I know Eastporters are going to be furious with me for outing their secret. The place is run by Pat Mahoney Sr. and his son, Pat Mahoney Jr. They’re watermen, among the last of a dying breed. Every morning they troll the waters around Eastport and Annapolis, bringing their haul back to sell to the public. You order at the counter inside, then take a seat at one of four tiki umbrella-topped tables along the gravel-topped parking lot; they’ll bring you the food. And what food. The thing to get is the softshells, provided they still have them when you show up. The day I was in, they did, and I feasted on two massive, meaty, delicately sweet softshells — the best preparation of the dish I’ve had this season. The softshells had been quartered, dredged in a mixture of what appeared to be flour and corn meal, and lightly fried. With cole slaw and fries, the tab came to — yes, I’m not joking — $15. I haven't tried the hard shells; they've been sold out. But I can't imagine they'd be anything less than great; I'm eager to come back and bring home a bushel. If you're not a fan of softshells, there's also good fried shrimp, bay scallops, rockfish, and clams.

Cafe Rue, Beltsville

I've got a lot of affection for this one-man band. Cole Whaley, a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine, is not just the owner and chef — he’’s also waiter, runner, and busser of this likable little hole in the wall in a fading Beltsville strip mall. There’s no other menu in the area quite like this, a delightful hodgepodge of soul food, yuppie bistro small plates, and Frenchified sweets. His crispy Brussels sprout dish may be the best I’ve had in a year full of crispy Brussels sprouts dishes — the outer leaves separate slightly, and he gets a chip-like crunch on them. And I love the enhancements — a touch of coconut oil for richness, a drizzle of clover honey for sweetness. The miniature crab cakes are hard to resist, and disappear quickly. Chicken and waffles are the heart of the menu, and the Cotton Club-derived combo comes in four varieties, including one with red velvet waffles and one with Sriracha-glazed chicken that calls to mind the sweet-spicy crunch of General Tso’s. I like the “classic” — the boneless, white meat chicken has surprising juice, and the waffles are thick and fluffy. Come dessert, the Francophile chef indulges his love of patisserie with five kinds of macarons (the cream centers are a touch dry, but he nails the difficult outside) and a surprisingly successful attempt at that recent darling of the NY foodie world, the cronut. More to like: the dining room is dressed up with art from the owner’s own collection, and bossa nova on continuous loop makes any day feel like a lazy Sunday.

Sushi Capitol, DC

I kind of hate putting this on here. The place is already not large — you could stand in front of the iconic Hawk ’n’ Dove, its next-door neighbor, and miss it — and the crowds that are sure to come now will only mean that I won’t be able to get in when I want later. And I’m going to want. This is a diminished sushi scene: Makoto is no longer special, Kushi is in decline, and Sushi-Ko I is gone. That leaves Sushi Taro and Sushi Capitol, and at the moment I’m not all that certain I’d take the former over the latter. Capitol is not as polished an experience as Taro, but neither is it the Zen-like spa of hushed voices and restrained manners — an Important Restaurant to save up for when you are looking to mark an occasion. This is a simple, unassuming spot, a workaday spot, with good, well-sourced fish and a chef who knows how to enhance the raw product without sacrificing the elegance essential to the form. Minoru Ogawa was previously in charge of sushi operations at every Mandarin Oriental property along the Eastern seaboard. He’s a purist at the bar, abjuring gimmicks, fads and clutter. The pieces are small, with tiny pads of rice, and the fish is sliced thin and delicately and draped just so over the pads. This doesn’t just make for an elegant presentation; it ensures that each bite is in balance, with the right proportion of fish to rice. I was in most recently for the omakase, which, at $50 for somewhere between 16-20 pieces, amounts to a sweetheart of a deal in the sushi world — particularly when the yellowtail is so sweet and still tastes of the sea, and the various white fishes are not simply there for padding, and the hand-rolls (passed across the bar as soon as they’re finished, their wrappers warm and crunchy) come with fresh-chopped toro. If you order a la carte, don’t ignore the rolls. The Florida roll, draped with whitened bands of blowtorched salmon belly and sliced avocado, is a stunner in every sense.

Thai Taste by Kob, Wheaton

On a three-block stretch of Wheaton, near the intersection of University Blvd. and Georgia Ave., can be found two of the area's best Thai restaurants -- Ruan Thai and Nava Thai. Time to add a third. Phak Duangchandr -- Kob, to friends -- has set up shop in the tiny space that originally contained Nava, in the back of Hung Phat market. Thai food fans may remember her, or at least her cooking; for 19 years she operated the Thai Food Carryout at Thai Market, near the old Safeway in Wheaton. The new setting, electrified with a paint job of orange and day-glo green, gives her a chance to expand her repertoire of dishes, while staying true to the from-scratch traditions that earned her a devoted following. The emphasis is on street food and homecooking, with a good many dishes you simply won't find anywhere else, like bamee moo daeng, a meal-in-a-bowl of tender egg noodles, red-edged roast pork, baby bok choy, and fish balls; or kai yad sai, an omelette stuffed with ground chicken punched up with fish sauce and soy sauce; or a salad of shrimp paste-flavored rice, onions, cucumber and sweet, sticky pork). But even familiar tastes, taste different here -- funkier, more pungent, and definitely hotter (a shrimp fried rice, alive with fistfuls of Thai basil and a generous pinch of chilis, set my heart to racing). Some customers have already been asking for more rice to accompany their orders. Partner and manager Max Praserptmate says he is willing to accommodate any requests, but adds that his aunt's cooking is not the aberration; it's the great majority of Thai restaurants that are the aberration. "The taste," he says, "is what you're supposed to get from your Thai food." Duangchandr imports many of her spices from Thailand, and toasts and grinds them herself. All the condiments on the spice tray, including a terrific chili vinegar, are made on the premises. Meats are given a long soak before hitting the grill -- 72 hours, in the case of the pork that is pounded and threaded onto a skewer to create a must-order starter called moo yang. The other must-order starter sure doesn't sound like it -- when was the last time you had fried shrimp wontons that were any good? These are fabulous. Kiew tod comes to the table looking more like a plate of tortilla chips, the mix of shrimp and white pepper bundled within a sneakily rolled edge. The crunch is junk food-loud; it's hard not to believe they weren't engineered in a lab. No beer or wine yet; Praserptmate says soon on both. I would take the money you'd ordinarily spend on a drink and spring for an extra dish or two (most are under $10, and many items will survive into the next day).

Rose's Luxury, DC

I love the crackle in the room when you walk in. I'm not talking about mere noise; lots of restaurants have noise. I'm not even talking about buzz, that sense that a new place is hot. This one has an energy that is unmistakable, a sense that you have entered a kind of rare and cherished zone where the enthusiasm of the kitchen and the staff is returned in kind by the diners, who all seem to walk out the door with smiles on their faces. It's not hard to understand why. Rose's Luxury has an old-school vibe, and a sort of making-it-up-as-we-go-along feel, from the homey, unassuming way the menu bids you to settle in and order to the dinner party-run-amok vibe to the yahrzeit-look-alike votives to the beer glasses that are sawed-off wine bottles. The chef, Aaron Silverman, logged stints in such high-profile kitchens as Momofuku in New York and Husk and McCrady's in Charleston, and you don't have to look hard to see elements of each of these places in the room and on the plate. Like his mentors David Chang and Sean Brock, he aims to bring off a marriage of extreme playfulness and extreme precision. The bulk of the menu consists of a dozen small plates in which Silverman sets out to cross the wires, compositionally speaking, and see what happens. A pate is a braiding of French, Italian (garlic bread are the toasts), Vietnamese (the rich, crushed-peanut topped spread brims with star anise), and I want to say Jewish (the brine for the jalapenos, onions and cukes that add crunch and tang tastes deli to me). It's seamlessly done, and highly addictive. He crosses high and low in a soup that tastes at once like liquefied popcorn and a delicate lobster veloute (the sweetness calls out for some sort of counterbalancing ingredient, or more lobster). It's not all derring-do. His gnocchi are more properly a kind of ravioli, stuffed with fennel and mint, sauced with not-too-much butter and topped with a generous scattering of crunchy toasted breadcrumbs. You'd be hard put to find five better pasta dishes in town right now. The final course is a page not out of Momofuku or Husk or McCrady's, but out of Komi -- share plates for two. In one, you lay luscious slices of perfectly smoked brisket on griddled Texas toast, add on tangy strands of pickled cabbage and smear the whole thing with a fluffy horseradish cream. The other is built around a beautifully brined pork chop -- sweet and aromatic and rich as the best pork can be -- with potlikker beans and a textbook red-eye gravy. The final act needs re-staging. The lack of a pastry chef doesn't help, nor does the tendency to over-think and over-embellish. Quenelles of chocolate cream sprinkled with dried rose petals and intended for spreading on slices of charred bread feels twee, not interesting, and hardly satisfies. More of the sink-in simplicity of the share courses would go a long way. Still, this is one of the most exciting debuts of the year. I'd even go so far as to say it's one of the most exciting debuts of the past three years.

* new this week

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OYSTERS WITHOUT THEIR LIQUOR? ...:

Hi Todd..

A gripe..oysters in the half-shell without their liquor - very disappointing when charged $36/dozen. I'll accept the stray shell bit, however, a full dozen deep cup oysters without liquor, that's heartbreaking.

Todd Kliman:

Oysters without their liquor?

That’s like mussels without their broth.

Who would do a thing like that?

I hope you’re not too shy to out the offender. I’d love to know.

What a prissy little move this is — dumping the liquor.

Of course, now it’s got me thinking about other such moves in this vein — moves made in the name of making things look pretty. But almost always at the expense of making them taste good.

Redwood, when it first opened, served ribs, but because of where they’re located, and because of the crowd it hoped to please, sent out little bowls of water with thin slices of lemon in them.

A hearty, country food, a food best eaten roadside and getting your face all smeared with sauce — and they daintified it. And, of course, killed it.

What other examples are out there? I’d love to know.

And by the way, to all of you who wrote in this past week to say you’d gladly take part in a rooftop experience at Rose’s, or even some other night out at a restaurant where we could all gather and eat and interact … thank you. I’m interested in making this happen. Just some logistical things that I need to tackle. But stay tuned, please, in the coming weeks …

FOLLOWING-UP FROM LAST WEEK: SOFTSHELLS ...:

Per last week's softshell discussion: the Inn at Little Washington is currently doing a tempura softshell BLT as one of its second courses.

It's good, though perhaps not as unique as some of the other things they do (current stand-outs are a roasted beet surrounded with a chilled tomato soup, a small scoop of sorbet, and a small caviar toast; also their sour cherry tart is perfectly simple and absolutely as phenomenal as you want it to be).

Separately, the Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton is doing - of all things - a meatloaf sandwich that absolutely hits it out of the park. Even served cold from their fridge (which is how they do sandwiches), they've got the perfect blend with just enough mustard. Might be improved by toasting, but most sandwiches are.

And if you've not stopped by the Apple House in Linden for one of their fresh-from-the-oven apple cider donuts, you need to (the rest of the place is kitschy and cheesy and all of that; the donuts are fabulous).

Todd Kliman:

Yum.

Thanks for the report …

That meatloaf sandwich sounds terrific and so do those apple cider donuts.

Sounds like the pretext for a nice little weekend jaunt.

Sorry that I’m not thinking about hitting the road for your softshell, Inn at LW; pretty hard to, after the phenomenal ones I had recently at Wild Country Seafood (see my review above).

FISHNET, IN COLLEGE PARK AND NOW IN SHAW, TOO ...:

I've enjoyed going to Fishnet in College Park the last couple of years, and always looked forward to the random specials, like pasta or soft-shell crabs, that would show up on the menu.

Now, all I see (according to the restaurant's Facebook/Twitter) are a TON of specials for the new Shaw location and basically nothing for College Park. It looks like they have a cheaper lunch special ($10 vs $15 in CP), mussels, scallops, sea urchin soup... and they definitely got the soft-shells first this year! I think they only showed up for a day in CP.

Any thoughts on this? It makes me feel less valued as an original customer. Should I give Fishnet a pass because it needs to grow its business?

Todd Kliman:

This was exactly my worry, when I learned that a new location was coming in Shaw.

There may be explanations for all this. Maybe the Shaw crowd is more demanding, and maybe it is also more knowledgeable about things like sea urchin. Maybe.

But it won’t sit right with some people if they have a sense that the original location was opened mainly to give the concept a chance to work out the kinks.

You’ve posted your thoughts here. I would write a letter, as well, and leave it with the owner, Ferhat Yalcin, at the College Park location.

WILD COUNTRY SEAFOOD, CONT. ...:

Wild Country Seafood sounds awesome. Do you know what time is best to go? Seems like they probably don't keep too much in stock.

Todd Kliman:

Go early.

Late morning is probably ideal.

They’re open only until 7 on Friday and Saturday and only until 3 on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

No beer or wine, by the way.

THE RAMMYS ...:

Hi Todd,

What are your thoughts on the RAMMY Awards? Are they an accurate representation of the best restaurants in Washington?

And what's all this about including/not including restaurants who're members of the RAMW? I saw the piece in the Post yesterday discussing how Rose's Luxury should have won an award, despite not being a member and therefor not qualifying.

Todd Kliman:

The restaurant that won in the category of best new restaurant was the Red Hen, the second best restaurant that opened last year.

Rose’s was the best restaurant that opened in the DC area last year.

The Red Hen is not a distant second; it’s a very good restaurant, and you can make an argument that it was the best of the year. I wouldn’t, but you could.

But the absence of Rose’s, in my view, calls a lot about the awards into question.

The RAMMYs are a way for the industry to recognize its own. The association has always struck me as a highly political business, and the awards as a highly political enterprise — who is nominated, who wins, etc.

And then there is the matter of handing out awards when there isn’t something clear and tangible for voters to respond to — which, of course, is not limited to the RAMMYS.

“Best chef Haidar Karoum”? “Best upscale casual restaurant Ripple”?

Based on what?

On popularity with the voters?

EXPLORING THE "NORTH COUNTRY" OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY ...:

It was a culinary weekend exploring the "north country" of Montgomery Co and some of southern Frederick County. A few mentionables:

We ended up at the Black Hog BBQ because it was close the fit the bill for a family Sunday lunch. It was "contemporary roadhouse" and clearly a popular choice after church with a bit of a wait at 1pm. Cheap? Perhaps compared to Hill Country in DC -- but if they put the care into they purported to we were up for a $35 lunch for two. We sampled widely -- blending their 4 house made sauces for each of the styles of cue. The chicken was a standout -- often dry and an afterthought this was juicy, meaty, smokey albeit a bit sweet with the rub for my taste. Too sweet, but I'm craving it again today. The meats were perfectly done, a bit restrained in portion, as were the sides. The BBQ beans made me swoon but I left the weird slaw-puree barely touched. I'd come back for the cue and those beans anytime.

Way out at the Point of Rocks there is a destination creamery --- Rocky Point creamery -- with a parking lot packed with cars from DC and So. MoCo on a Sunday making the trek up for their far fresh ice-cream. I applaud their small, independent business mentality and their chutzpah for charging Dolcezza prices. But allow for a rant here. I'm from NH, and up there ice cream places are destinations. They have playgrounds for kids surrounded by bunches of shady, sticky picnic tables. They have heaping, embarrassing servings, and they have charm. Unless you wanted to eat on the side of the building in the sun with the dust it was indoors in the AC at Rocky Point (with a beautiful farm just outside, to me calling for a picnic area). And the ice cream (here's the remainder of the rant) -- don't call it natural if you are going to put food coloring or some strange fruit syrup in it (green mint, weird hot pink strawberry, etc). The chocolate ice cream was made with good quality milk and was creamy and fresh. Tempt me with another flavor which looks like it's made with real, possibly seasonal fruit, and I'll consider shelling out $6 for a conservative ice cream again someday.

And lastly, a bit of a pre-dining excitement. We passed a place called "The Buzz" in Monrovia and couldn't stop because of some urgent mini-golf needs from the boss in the backseat. I checked it out online later and it looks exactly like the type of diner-gone-wild food that I adore. It's a bit naughty in names and language descriptions, it's quirky, and I want to ditch my job today and go eat there. Gets raving reviews. Have you been?

~Bevin

Todd Kliman:

Thanks for the tasty report, Bevin.

I haven’t been to The Buzz. Looks fun. Why don’t you go and check it out for us.

I’m with you on ice cream places not providing places to sit and enjoy the ice cream. I understand why they don’t, but you’re right — it diminishes the experience, not to be able to sit and look out at something nice and have a cone.

Black Hog BBQ is a place I’ve written about — not nirvana for a ‘cue lover, no. But they’re serious, and you can taste their love of their craft in many of their meats.

ADVENTUROUS EATING IN DC PROPER?:

Good morning, Todd.

What restaurants in DC proper would you suggest for adventurous eaters?

I enjoy many of the ethnic restaurants outside of the city, but was wondering if there are any can't-miss restaurants inside the city limits.

Ambiance doesn't need to be a consideration and it can definitely be off the beaten path.

Thanks!

Todd Kliman:

There are two places I like, both on the same street. Next door to one another, in fact.

Mi Cuba Cafe, on Park Rd., for good, soulful Cuban cooking (love the picadillo) and Los Hermanos for something you seldom see in the city: Dominican. Browse the pans of meats and starches and see what looks good to you. And don’t miss the pigeon peas and yellow rice. Ask for it if you don’t see it.

What else?

Eat the Rich has whelks (which are similar to escargot, only much more obscure), pickled herring and sour cream, and fish pie.

At Izakaya Seki, you might find — the menu changes all the time — live scallops cooked in their shells, along with their innards; baby octopus marinated in liver; and cold beef tongue.

Sushi Capitol, my current favorite for sushi in the area (see my review up top), sometimes has tiny baby crabs — pop ‘em whole into your mouth and bite down, claws, eyes and all. Sweet, crunchy, lightly savory.

ROSE'S ROOFTOP DECK, CONT. ...:

Seems like you have your Rose's table filled, but I'd like to be on a wait-list. thanks

Todd Kliman:

Of course!

Please drop me an email at tkliman@washingtonian.com — that way I have an email record, with everybody to contact all in one place.

That goes for everybody else out there who is interested in our fun little project — either with this restaurant or any other …

SICILIAN FOOD IN DC? ...:

Hi Todd,

Is there a place I can find Sardinian or Sicilian food in DMV? I love their flavors and simple heartiness but not sure if anybody in this area does it.

I'm willing to travel (as always) for good food :-)

Todd Kliman:

It’s an interesting question. But unfortunately without a good answer.

There are Sicilian dishes around town — We the Pizza has a Sicilian pie, Fiola recently had on the menu a risotto in the style of a Sicilian fishermen’s stew, the new Dino’s Grotto is doing a Sicilian cassata with fresh pumpkin, pumpkin seed and ricotta — but so far as I know, there are no Sicilian restaurants. Well, okay one, barely — Sicilian Pizza, on Florida Ave. in DC.

Too bad. I’m with you. It’d be great to have a few places like this in our midst.

FISHNET, CONT.: OWNER FERHAT YALCIN REPLIES ...:

Hi Todd,

I just saw the reader`s post on your chat. As you said, there are explanations for what is happening.

I will write you a detailed reply when I have a little more time in my hands. I`d appreciate if you can send it to the reader`s way.

Thanks,

Ferhat

Todd Kliman:

OK, Ferhat, thanks for writing in. We’ll stay tuned …

RAMMYS, CONT. ...:

Re: Rammy awards, I am in agreement with you about the whole thing being political, and Roses being the best restaurant etc. but as a formality, I believe a restaurant has to be in operation for at least 2 years to be nominated in any category so Roses was not eligible.

On a separate note, I have a major issue with the categories - who comes up with "Upscale Casual" vs "Everyday Casual" and why Brunch but nothing else? And some nominees totally didn't make sense to some of us who know and understand the F&B outlets in the city.

Todd Kliman:

But the category was Best New Restaurant. By definition, that place can’t have been open much more than a year.

I don’t understand what “everyday casual” is. I think I understand “upscale casual.” But “everyday casual” sounds like something Martha Stewart came up with, something to make “just being in your regular old clothes and doing what you ordinarily would do” sound sexy and salable.

COOKING A SPANISH MEAL AT HOME, ISO: SOME KEY INGREDIENTS ...:

I'm prepping for a Spanish-themed dinner this Friday for some friends- I'm doing fish, pork loin with peaches, a chorizo rice dish, etc. The problem: I'm having a hard time finding a Spanish sweet paprika, saffron, and piquillo peppers.

Any suggestions on where I should go to find the ingredients?

Todd Kliman:

I’d try Wegmans first.

I think you’ll be able to find the smoked paprika there (I have, in the past) and the saffron, too.

Piquillos, I’m less certain of.

Dean & DeLuca should have all three. But you will pay dearly, let me tell you.

Good luck.

And good luck with the meal — it sounds great. Drop in next week with a report …

ISO: A PLACE TO GO TO DRINK TROPICAL COCKTAILS ALL DAY LONG ...:

I'm taking a staycation day on July 8th and I desperately am looking for someplace where I can drink tropical cocktails all day long.

Bonus if it's at a poolside location?

Any hotels or locations fit this bill?

Todd Kliman:

I can’t think of any.

Sounds like a Club Med sort of deal to me.

The Hotel Monaco, a Kimpton property catty-corner from the Verizon Center, isn’t on the water and doesn’t specialize in tropical drinks, but I’ve gotta think it would be a fun place to drink the day away.

WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO KUSHI? ...:

WRT to Capital Sushi, you nailed it about Kushi. What the heck happened?

I remember when it first opened it was nearly impossible to get in (unless you wanted to go ridiculously early or towards the end of service); lately however, the reviews have not been as stellar as before.

I am having trouble understanding what is going on with a once-busy restaurant that was going gangbusters.

Todd Kliman:

Me too.

It’s a mystery. And kind of sad.

RAMMYS, CONT. ...:

Other restaurants that aren't members of RAMW and therefore won't win:

Komi & Little Serow 2 Amy's & Etto

Todd Kliman:

Right.

Great point.

I’m not as enamored of Etto as some in the local food world are, but in Komi, Little Serow and 2 Amys you are talking about three of the best restaurants in the region. Not the city, not the area — the region.

Not having them in the mix calls into doubt the quality of the mix, which calls into doubt the ability of the awards to identify and honor the best.

Time for lunch.

Thanks for the great comments and tips and reports, everyone. I appreciate it, as always.

Be well, eat well, and let’s do it again next Tuesday at 11 …







[missing you, TEK … ]



WAIT -- BEFORE YOU SHUT DOWN: SOURCES FOR SPANISH INGREDIENTS ...:

Spanish Cooking -

If the person looking for Spanish ingredients is in the District they should call Eastern Market Grocery (202) 544-2112. If they can get out to Bethesda check out A&H Seafood and Gourmet Market 301-841-8151, they carry lots of Spanish ingredients.

Todd Kliman:

Just under the gun …

Thanks so much!

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