The Best Thing I Ate: Breakfast Pastries, Red-Wine Sangria

Our favorite dishes from the past seven days of dining.

Red wine sangria is simple to make, and packs a pleasant punch. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Todd Kliman

Crispy Brussels sprouts at Cafe Rue

You’ve seen this dish. 

You’ve seen it so much, in fact, that you’re probably sick of it.

This is one of the better ones, maybe the best I’ve had all year.

Cole Whaley, the chef, owner, waiter, runner, and busser of this bare-bones but immensely likable spot, halves them and fries them up so that the outer leaves separate slightly and turn crunchy, like the skins of potatoes when you bake them.

The adornments: a touch of coconut oil for a rounding-out richness and a squizzle of clover honey for a balancing sweetness.

Whaley is good, and he’s consistent, too. I’ve had this dish twice now, and both versions were terrific.

Ann Limpert

Breakfast pastries from Frenchie’s (available at La Colombe)

I’m pretty ascetic about breakfast during the week, but weekend mornings I give up the extra-large green tea in favor of bacon-egg-and-cheeses, pancakes, and other nap-inducing indulgences. My new favorite: the breakfast pastries from local baker Erica Skolnik, which they have tons of at La Colombe, the open-air coffee shop in the same Shaw alley as Rogue 24

I’d be hard-pressed to pick a “best” of the large array we tried—they were all so good. But here are my top three: the ethereal almond croissant, a danish-like pastry with a creamy lemon custard center and a crunchy sugar coating, and the plain croissant, which tasted both airy and as if it were the delivery system for a pound of butter. Totally worth a week of green tea-fueled penance.


Anna Spiegel

“Warning-label” sangria from Steven Raichlen

I’ve played with several sangria recipes over the years, but always come back to my very first. This classic red-wine version comes from Steven Raichlen’s Barbecue Bible, which cocktails aside, is one of my longtime favorite grilling cookbooks for summer. The Madrid-inspired formula doesn’t need much modification. I like to cut down the sugar a tad and add a mix of fruits like strawberries and apples to soak up the boozy goodness. Make that very boozy. My friends have nicknamed the drink “warning-label” sangria because I always give guests a heads up about the potency. Cups (and cups) go down smooth, especially if you brew it a few hours in advance to let the flavors meld. Still, the combination of dry red wine, cognac, gin, and brandy is anything but mild. Try it once and you’ll be making it for barbecues all season long.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.