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February 2009

Weekly Blog Round Up

Tomatoes local 600The *sigh* heard 'round the Beltway. That's what you witnessed Wednesday night after Top Chef's DC favorite, Carla Hall, was officially pronounced out of the running by head judge, Tom Colicchio. Prior to the airing of the final episode of season 5, Carla spoke with DCist. When asked about plans for her career after TC, Carla noted that she would like to open a kitchen in DC, with catering in the back, and a chef's table in the front where she could also hold classes. Additionally, Carla spoke about her enthusiasm for the diversity of cultural cuisine in the DC area, and the "huge and beautiful farmers market scene". If you find yourself at the Silver Spring Whole Foods, or the Dupont farmers market, shout out a  "Hootie" and see if you get a "Hoo".

This week, Bright Young Things published an interview with Chef Jamie Leeds of CommonWealth and Hank's Oyster Bar. At CommonWealth's Columbia Heights location, BYT and "disarmingly funny" Chef Leeds sat down for a Q&A. Chef Leeds discussed why she decided to open a gastropub, 5 must have ingredients, and what she thinks everyone should know how to make at home. Head over to BYT for the interview and terrific photos.

The Mediterranean Market was the subject this week in a post by Eat Washington. EW tells readers "Go at lunch and join the line for Gyro, Shawarma, Kofta, and other Middle Eastern favorites [made] to order, as well as various pizzas, including the unexpected Spinach version. You can  eat in at tables in the window." You can also read about the grocery side of The Mediterranean Market, which carries among other things, canned snails, stuffed olives, meat and spinach pies, and an Egyptian cheese, called Rumi.

If you like Martinis and Manhattans, but can't decide which one to imbibe in, order a Martinez, suggests Kelly, of Kelly's Grape Times. Found at The Gibson (and made by Derek Brown), Kelly describes the cocktail as "a precursor to the Martini made with Old Tom Gin (sweeter than most gins), floral Maraschino liqueur, sweet vermouth and orange bitters, and garnished with a flamed orange peel."

Kelly also wrote about other hot spots in and around 14th Street for DC Magazine. You can read the article here.

Finally, do you eat tomatoes in winter? Metrocurean raises this question vis a vis an article in Gourmet magazine, entitled "The Price of Tomatoes". Personally, I get through winter buying Campari tomatoes from Costco. But, this has me thinking--and doing my homework. Where do these tomatoes come from, and is there a human price being paid by virtue of the fact that many people, including me, buy them?


Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation - Now with Top Chef Carla Hall

TON On Monday, March 30th, one of the best annual events for DC Foodies comes around for the twenty-first time.  Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation is an epicurean dream: food from more than 40 of Washington's best restaurants, a wine bar, and killer cocktails.  It's also a fundraising event from which 100% of ticket sales go to benefit local anti-hunger organizations.  Good food and drink for a good that's a hot ticket.

And it just got hotter today - DC Foodies has just learned that Top Chef Finalist Carla Hall will be participating in this year's event.  The proprietor of Alchemy Caterers, Hall is a graduate of L'Academie de Cuisine and a veteran chef with Share Our Strength's Operation Front Line.  She's been making the rounds interviewing with DC media and bloggers in advance of tonight's finale, and it should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen her positive, thoughtful approach to cooking that she's involved in this.

Taste of the Nation will take place from 7 to 10 PM on the evening of Monday, March 30th, and this year the event is taking place in the beautiful Mellon Auditorium on Constitution Avenue.  For $85, guests can attend the general event, partake of tastings, and bid on items in the silent and not-so-silent auctions taking place that night.

Carla If you're feeling even more generous, a $150 VIP ticket will earn you admission an hour early and get you into the VIP lounge, where you can enjoy hands-on demonstrations hosted by chef chair RJ Cooper of Vidalia, exclusive tastings and cocktails from Master Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim and members of the DC Craft Bartenders Guild.  Have a sweet tooth?  There will also be a VIP 'Dessert Den' this year!  Since all of the ticket sales go directly to the beneficiary charities, why not splurge a little?

So which restaurants will be participating in this foodie-palooza?  Check out the website for the full list, but here's just a taste:

  • 1789
  • Art and Soul
  • Bourbon Steak
  • Central
  • Charlie Palmer Steak
  • Dino
  • Farrah Olivia
  • Hank's Oyster Bar
  • Kaz's Sushi Bistro
  • Kinkead's
  • Marcel's / Brasserie Beck
  • PS7's
  • Restaurant Eve
  • Restaurant Nora
  • The Source
  • Vidalia / Bistro Bis
  • VOLT

Drooling yet?

Bloody good bangers and mash

FH000014 “I think this is my final step from vegetarianism.”

That was the line I got from Tim – a recovering vegetarian – when I invited him and his still vegetarian wife Melissa over for a lunch of grilled blood sausages and potatoes.

I feel like Meat Vader.

The menu was a twist on the British classic, bangers and mash. Rather than using traditional beef or pork sausages, I grilled up a few blood sausages, thick with coagulated blood and delicious pork parts. Instead of mashing the potatoes, I cooked them on the grill with sweet yellow onions and seasoned with fresh thyme.

Blood sausages, a staple of British cuisine that like many foods is as wonderful as it is intimidating. In the U.K., you’re likely to encounter them at breakfast alongside a pool of baked beans and seared tomatoes. The western omelet at Denny’s it ain’t, but it’s a pretty mean meal.

Few foods back up the adage “when in Rome” quite like those dark maroon links. Once I tried blood sausages, I was hooked. There's just something about that unctuous, iron flavor and soft texture that's irresistible. Unfortunately, they can be hard to find on this side of the Atlantic.

So it was to my great surprise when I stumbled across them at Eastern Market. Rather than being kept among the rest of the sausages at Canales Delicatessen, the blood sausages were tucked between the smoked meats and fatback a cooler away. I’m not sure what led to their exile and I don’t really care. I found someone selling blood sausages.

FH000004 Although the British are not a grilling people, my first thought was to get the sausages over hot charcoal. Sausages were meant to be grilled and blood sausages are no different. The potatoes were a critical accompaniment. As much as I love blood sausages, they are rich, rich. The starch of the potatoes is necessary to cut the intense iron and meat flavors. The thyme ties it all together, reminding me why the British love the herb so much.

My approach to bangers and mash might be askew, but my love of British beer rests squarely in the traditional bitters and pale ales. Deep in flavor and low in alcohol, few things are as good as spending an afternoon drinking pints of English bitter with friends. For lunch, I picked up bottles of Fuller’s ESB, Bluebird Bitter and Samuel Smith’s India Ale (maybe the best beer brewed today). Each was different, each was delicious.

Aside from the ingredients and beer, there was little about the meal that was particularly British. But as with the Magna Carta, the Queen’s English and this former colony, we’ve been improving on British creations for an awfully long time.

Canales Delicatessen
7th St., S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 544-0083

Grilled bangers and mash
(Makes two servings)

4 blood sausages
4 potatoes, quartered
2 yellow onion, cut into thick slices
Fresh thyme, pull the leaves from the stems
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
4 tbs. olive oil

Boil the quartered potatoes, drain and set aside to cool. Light the grill and pull the sausages out of the refrigerator so they can loose some of their chill.

FH010009 Drizzle the potatoes with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and place on the grill, meat side down. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes until a brown crust forms and turn. Grill for another 3 minutes and remove from the grill. Transfer the potatoes to a baking sheet and drizzle another 2 tablespoons of oil over top. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper and place in a warm oven while you cook the onions and sausages.

FH010006 Coat the onions with the remaining olive oil before putting them on the grill with the sausages. Cook the onions and sausages just off the hottest part of the grill for 5 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5 minutes.

Pull the onions and sausages off the grill, let the meat rest for a few minutes (just enough time to pour a few pints of bitter) before plating with the potatoes. Scatter a good amount of fresh thyme over the potatoes and enjoy.

Restaurant Week - Wait, There's More!

Restaurant Week Phew!

Another Restaurant Week has come and gone.  As always, there were winners - restaurants that really took the opportunity to show off what they have to offer all year round - and losers - those whose treated it as more of a burden or, worse, barely gave it a thought.

If you were out of town, busy, or just forgot, you may be thinking that you missed your chance to take advantage of those great Restaurant Week deals - $35.09 dinners and $20.09 lunches.  But we wanted to remind you that you've still got more than 30 options this week, if you want to make up for lost time (or a bad experience last week).

For reminders of what these restaurants are offering, check back at our original post.  And for reservations (much more readily available than they were last week) through OpenTable, click on the restaurant names.  No link means no OpenTable participation.

Enjoy this chance to end February on a culinary high note!

Restaurants Offering Extended Restaurant Week deals:
Bombay Club
Cafe Atlantico
Cafe Bonaparte (extending to March 8)
Circle Bistro
Farrah Olivia
Georgia Brown's
Hook (only available at lunch per JR)
Il Mulino
IndeBleu - (their extension dinner menu is $29.09, even cheaper than during Restaurant Week!)
Jackson 20
Jaleo - Bethesda, Crystal City, Downtown
La Tomate
Nage (Extending until March 1st)
New Heights (2 weeks)
Oval Room
Petit Plats
Prime Rib

Weekly Blog Round Up

Barton seaverChef Barton Seaver is reportedly resurfacing in DC. According to the Going Out Guru's blog, Chef Seaver will be partnering with Eli Hengst (Sonoma, Redwood) at Blue Ridge in Glover Park. The space formerly occupied by Busara will be a 200 seat "neighborhood" restaurant, and is scheduled to open April 1. True to Seaver's local-sourcing style, the burgers will be Virginia grass-fed beef only.

Chef Seaver was recently a guest on the Kojo Nnamdi show, where according to Tim Carman's Young and Hungry blog, he discussed sustainable seafood and illegal trafficking in rockfish. Carman asked Chef Seaver for his thoughts on a recent Washington Post article regarding said rockfish. You can learn about his insights here.

Did you vote for Chef Seaver as DC's Most Crushable Chef over at Capital Spice?. Along with Seaver, Teddy Folkman, Katsuya Fukushima, Johnny Monis and Spike Mendelsohn were also in the running. Personally, my favorite is Teddy Folkman, 'cause I like a man with muscles mussels.

Having a good record of "scuttlebutt" being true, the Prince of Petworth reported this week on rumors (from a "very trusted source") that the forces behind Marvin on 14th St. will be opening another location in Petworth. Thoughts of a truly neighborhood restaurant anchoring Georgia Ave. brought tears of joy to the optimistic blogger. Marvin 2--can it be true?

DC Foodies congratulates Clay and Zach of The Bitten Word for being named one of The World's 50 Best Food Blogs. This comes on the heels of being profiled in Washingtonian's Blogger Beat. In it, you can find out what kitchen appliances they can't live without, and their favorite ten-minute desserts.

DC Foodies also congratulates one of our favorite local chefs, José Andrés, for garnering a rare four stars from LA food critic S. Irene Virbila, for his LA restaurant, The Bazaar. "Los Angeles has never seen anything remotely like this exciting restaurant from Spanish chef José Andrés.", Virbila reported in the LA Times. 

Early reports on Robert Weidmaier's BRABO in Old Town Alexandria are positive. Reports Husband on Don Rockwell, "My wife had the best dishes with the cod-pork belly dish for starter and the Turbot w/gnocchi main." Ema noted "Brabo has all bottled beers, unlike Beck, which always have several choices on draft. I asked if they plan to have some beer on draft in the future and they said no."

Finally, you can read Jordan Wright's (Local Kicks) interview with Chef Weidmaier, where the chef shares his charitable work, his memories of his culinary roots in Alexandria, and what excites him about being back in Old Town.

Ray's the Steaks' New Location

Rays1 Chef Michael Landrum has been a busy guy of late. Building on the well-earned esteem garnered from his flagship restaurant, Ray's the Steaks, Chef Landrum has built a miniature empire of DC area restaurants, including Ray's the Classics of Silver Spring, and Ray's Hell Burger of Arlington, to which he will soon be adding Ray's the Nets, a reasonably priced seafood option modeled on his established trope of cheap-but-awesome meateries.

When I learned that Landrum and his crew were moving Ray's the Steak's -- synonymous this past eight years with criminally under-priced, house-aged steaks and rich-as-Midas sides -- I was a bit concerned. Why mess with success, I  asked myself? Yes, the old space was cramped, to the extent that even taking reservations was out of the question, but they had a formula! It worked! The place never had a spare seat, and ... what? Did you say that the new location is at 2300 Wilson Blvd, a mere seven minute walk from my apartment?  What a brilliant idea! It's high time they moved out of that old crapshack, anyhow. Status quo be damned!

Rays-Room1 On a whim, Eliza and I wandered over last Wednesday around seven o'clock, and managed to snag an eight o'clock seating (yes, Ray's now takes reservations!). The new space is huge, offering some 150 seats between its two large dining rooms. The set up is a bit schizophrenic: walk in the front door and look to your right, and it is just like the old place, complete with pirate flag, open kitchen, and a collection of tightly packed, bare-wood two and four tops; behind the host stand, Ray's has a more traditional steakhouse look, with burgundy carpets, black table clothes, and high-backed white chairs. We were seated in the "retro-Ray's" room, and after a few minutes, floor-to-ceiling windows notwithstanding, it felt just like old times.

Rays-Room2 I got to speak briefly with Chef Landrum the other day about switching locations. His one concern, if you could call it that, was that when you make such a dramatic change, psychologically, people want to find something wrong, something different from their idealized memories of the past. Well, let me assure you right now that, beyond general decor, Ray's has not changed at all. At all. The menu is the same off-white card stock it has always been, offering the same great steaks at the same great prices (though I've been told to keep an eye out for a new lamb dish in the near future). The service is as quick and efficient as ever, with the same crack staff dancing agilely between tables, and getting you through 8 oz of meat and a bottle of wine faster than you would have ever thought possible without being rushed. Eliza and I both ordered Rays-Pirate Hanger Steaks, rare, and they were exactly what we'd come to expect: perfectly cooked, flavorful, and the best damned steak deal in the area, period. New to me were the fois gras and bone marrow toppings ($9 and $3, respectively), which Chef Landrum tells me they started offering soon after opening Hell Burger. I got the marrow, and while I wouldn't call the additional fat strictly necessary, it was just the sort of beefy Jello I have grown to love, and was just the thing my decadent, Francophile ass was looking for.

If you loved Ray's as it was, do not fret: Daddy still loves you, he just had to move away, for grownup reasons. If you weren't a fan, and chalk that up to the chaotic ballet that was the old dining room, you might should see how you feel about the new plusher side. As for me, I am really bummed that Ray's moved into my backyard like two weeks before Lent; I was really not banking on that kind of temptation. I'm strong, I'll resist... but if you do happen to see me there on a Friday, please don't tell my mom.

Ray's the Steaks
2300 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201

(703) 841-RAYS

Dress Code: Casual
Parking: Street Parking
Not Allowed.
Closest Metro:
Reservations: Taken for part of the restaurant. There is also a portion of the restaurant that is first come, first serve.
Baby-Friendly Rating: 2 out of 4 diapers. Laid back and casual environment. The restaurant is bigger and therefore, louder, but there is only one child seat.

A Cure: Tortellini Soup

Between catching a cold, finding out my husband has high cholesterol and battling frigid winter temperatures on my walk to work, a steaming pot of soup just seemed like a good idea. Over the past six months, I’ve made soup my mission. Maybe I’m watching too much Top Chef, or maybe it’s my obsession with the soup chapter in Martha Stewart’s recent Cooking School (published in 2008) but my blender is weary from purees and my sauté pans have a permanent smell of celery, carrots and onion. Not necessarily bad things.

Point: I love making soup.

My most recent soup (to address the cold and cholesterol) is a variation of a recipe found in Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Pasta. Italian White Bean, Pancetta and Tortellini soup is, in Giada’s words, a twist on the traditional tortellini en brodo. Since cholesterol is found in many animal products, my version adds a vegetarian twist to her…twist.

I’ve made Giada’s tortellini soup with and without the pancetta. Granted, the original meaty version is delicious and yeah, that salty, chewy pancetta is a nice touch, I’ve found that the soup doesn’t suffer without it. And head this advice- do not try to substitute veggie bacon (or other veggie versions of meat) for pancetta. The consistency of that stuff once you sink it in soup is grainy, and the saltiness it adds doesn’t make up for that.

And here’s another tip -- make sure your swiss chard is very clean and well chopped, with the major purple veins removed. To do this: wash it well, and then lay each piece down on your cutting board, and run your knife along the center of each leaf down each side of the purple rib, removing it completely and discarding it. Then continue chopping the leaves into squares or strips. Sometimes you can rip the veins out, but cutting it out makes for more uniform pieces.

I hope you enjoy this flavorful soup as much as we did. And here’s your health!

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 large shallots, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced (a handful of baby carrots work in a pinch)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1-15 ounce can cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch of Swiss chard, chopped
7 cups vegetable broth
9 ounces (or one box) spinach tortellini

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and carrot and cook until the vegetables are soft and starting to change color. Add the garlic, beans, and let cook until the beans begin to break down, just a little (the looseness of the beans adds a nice thickness to your soup when it’s finished). Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the Swiss chard and let it wilt (about 3 minutes).

Add the tortellini and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the tortellini are tender.

In defense of the dry martini

Image019 Alright, enough already with attacking the dry martini.

It's one thing for The Washington Post to attack my favorite cocktail. It's quite another when D.C. Foodies' own Rob Rutledge does it.

I can only surmise that Rob and the Post's Jason Wilson are in cahoots to ruin the martini.

A few weeks ago, Wilson wrote in his Spirits column that the era the dry martini is coming to close. No longer would we be forced to drink the drink of Churchill and Hemingway. Finally, we can add dry vermouth -- lots of dry vermouth -- to the drink.

Rob followed with his own attack on the dry martini. It hardly qualifies as a cocktail, he said. D.C. bartenders are now mixing 50-50 gin and vermouth martinis, he said. The dry martini is your grandpa's drink, they both said.

Hardly a cocktail?! Grandpa's drink?!

People, the dry martini is one of the single greatest cocktails ever constructed. When done properly, it's crisp, bracing and ever so slightly sweet. It's everything you want in a proper cocktail.

If all that gin is too much for you, maybe you should stick to vodka tonics.

Speaking of vodka, let's be clear about what a martini is. On this point, Wilson was right. A martini is gin, dry vermouth and garnish, stirred and served in a cocktail glass. While the olive is the common garnish, I prefer a lemon twist. If I want to change it up a bit, I add a few dashes of orange bitters.

What the martini is not is a vodka and vermouth cocktail. Gin is the martini's foundational ingredient. It's the bedrock for which the drink is constructed upon. Replace it and you have a different drink.

As the foundational ingredient, gin should be the prominent ingredient. I like the story about Churchill merely tipping his glass toward France to give his martini his preferred amount of vermouth. But if the story is true, the prime minister was not drinking a martini.

On the other hand, by overwhelming the martini with dry vermouth, you lose the flavor of the spirit. Gin has a distinct herbal character, but it's easily drowned out by the vermouth.

Now, if you're a fan of vermouth, by all means dump as much as you like to your martini. But Papa, the prime minister and I will continue to enjoy our martinis dry, very dry.

Dry Martini

3 oz. of gin (Plymouth, Hendricks and Martin Miller's are all good choices)
1 tsp. dry vermouth (Dolin works)
lemon twist

Fill a shaker half full with ice and add the dry vermouth. Stir and vermouth to coat the ice cubes and strain the excess. Add the gin, stir and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.

Dupont Circle Farmers Market

Market Sign In my pursuit of Winter time farmers markets, I've shied away from the behemoth that is the Dupont Circle Farmers Market for several reasons.  One of the biggest reasons is because the market is always so crowded, it's hard to get your bearings straight.  When I go to a farmers market, I like to take my time and survey the offerings carefully before deciding on what to buy.  No matter what time you go to the Dupont Circle Farmers Market, there are a lot of people trying to navigate around a small patch of land.  This also makes it harder to have conversations with the vendors about their products, as they are running around trying to attend to the hordes of Sunday morning market goers.  Another reason I have spent most of the Winter steering clear of the Dupont Circle Farmers Market is because it's so well known, it really doesn't need any more publicity (as evident by the above mentioned crowds).  A number of the markets I've visited since November have been ones I had never known about before I started writing for DCFoodies.  I have enjoyed discovering the many markets around the DC area and highlighting them for others to discover.  Writing about the Dupont Circle Farmers Market just seemed a bit redundant and I was more inclined to explore other markets instead.  But last Sunday, I decided to head out again to my old and familiar market stomping grounds in search of lesser known vendors.

I arrived around 11 in the morning to be greeted by a glut of people spilling out onto the street.  The crowd was waiting in line for their turn at Bonaparte Breads, a local bakery with a Parisian feel.  Known for their French breads, pastries and desserts, Bonaparte Breads has become a wildly popular vendor at Dupont Circle.  Their baguettes have been a favorite of mine to use for stuffed chicken salad sandwiches, a hit at picnics and various other romantic attempts to eat outdoors.  Their Opera Torte, an almond sponge cake with layers of ganache and buttercream, is the quintessential French pastry and one of their best sellers at their Savage Mill cafe location.  Unfortunately, by the time I got to the market, they had already sold out of their baguettes...and most of their other offerings.  That was when I was quickly reminded you have to get to Dupont Circle early if you want the best selection.

I traveled on in search of lunch ideas for the week and hit upon Twin Springs Fruit Farm.  Like a lot of Winter Squashfarms in the area, Twin Springs Fruit Farm is not a certified organic farm.  I spoke briefly with one of the employees and learned they use a minimal amount of pesticides and only when absolutely necessary.  The pesticides they do use are organic in nature, thus reducing the use of harsh chemicals for their crops. For more stubborn pests, Twin Springs turns to mother nature for assistance by doing a controlled release of "predator bugs".  These predator bugs help to control the population of harmful pests without chemicals.  I asked what then becomes of the predator bugs and was told they either move on or die off and do not harm or effect the crop in any manner.  There was a bounty of Winter squash (some of the last of the season) amongst their tables, so I decided to pick up a red kuri squash to roast for later.  I also picked up a few red and yellow onions with the intent to caramelize them for something (in my world caramelized onions solve all the world's ills).

As I continued along, I stumbled upon a meat vendor I hadn't really noticed before, Cedarbrook Farm.  Located in West Virginia, Cedarbrook Farm is a certified organic farm that specializes in both raising free range animals and growing a wide variety of vegetables.  Their motto, "no hormones, no preservatives and no fillers" pretty much says it all.  Offering almost every pork product imaginable, Cedarbrook Farm also offers eggs from free range hens.  As was the case with a lot of the vendors, I wasn't able to speak with the person manning their stand because of the glut of people clamoring for everything from shoulder roasts to lard.  While trying to decide if I wanted to buy anything from them, I briefly spoke with a lady in the line.  I asked her if she'd bought anything from them before and she smiled, nodding profusely.  "I just adore their ribs.  When the weather gets warm, I love to throw them on the grill with a hoison sauce marinade."  I tucked that idea away for the upcoming Summer but opted not to buy anything from them this go round.  

Everona Dairy Cheeses While I will freely admit I stopped at my old familiar favorites, Blue Ridge Dairy and Atwater Bakery, I also happened upon another vendor I hadn't really noticed before: Everona Dairy.  Unlike some of the other stands, I was able to freely chat with the lady handing out cheese samples at the stand.  I asked for recommendations for a cheese that would work well with a ravioli.  Almost instantly, she reached for their Cracked Pepper Piedmont, an aged sheep's milk cheese.  Everona Dairy, located in the Piedmont region of Virginia, has won awards for its Piedmont cheese, including the 2005 American Cheese Society's best Farmhouse sheep's milk cheese.  The cracked pepper cheese had a nutty undertone to it, reminiscent of a finely aged parmesan.  The cracked pepper added a kick to the softer tasting cheese, making it perfect for a pasta dish.  I picked up a pound of the cheese with the intent of making a ravioli with the roasted red kuri squash.  However, after making a pizza the previous week, I decided to try my hand at a calzone using a homemade olive oil dough from one of my favorite cookbooks, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Roasted Winter Squash, Carmelized Onion and Mozzarella Calzone
1 lb pizza dough (homemade or store bought)
1 medium sized red kuri squash, roasted
1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 large onions, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the red kuri squash in quarters and remove the seeds from each section.  Lightly salt and pepper Finished Calzone each section and place in a roasting pan.  Roast for approximately 45 minutes or until the flesh is soft.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven immediately after the squash has finished roasting.Once cooled, scoop the flesh out of the skin and place in a bowl.  Whip together the flesh until it's a smooth texture.  

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions and let them sit for 45 seconds.  After that, continuously stir the onions as they slowly start to brown and caramelize.  Continue to cook them, stirring constantly, until the onions are fully caramelized, about 20 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and allow the onions to cool.

On a floured surface, roll out half of the dough into an oval shape.  Place the dough on a baker's peel lightly dusted with cornmeal.  Smear one half of the dough with half the roasted squash and then top with half of the cooled onions.  Place a few slices of the fresh mozzarella on top and fold the other side of the dough over the filling.  Pinch the edges to make sure the filling doesn't ooze out during the baking.  Shimmy the calzone off of the peel and onto the stone.  Bake the calzone for 20 to 25 minutes or until it's golden brown.  Repeat this process with the second half of the dough. 

The Dupont Circle Farmers Market is held every Sunday from 10 am to 1 pm (during the Winter), but make sure to come early for the best selection.  Its located on the circle between Massachusetts Avenue and Q Street in the heart of Dupont Circle.

Weekly Blog Round Up

Mussels sharp 250 Following up from last week's WBRU, the new Rays The Steaks (Court House) opened last Tuesday as planned, but with a small glitch in the ventilation hood system. Despite the restaurant briefly filling with smoke, ardent diners continued to eat the venerable steaks and sides. "Guests with asthma were leaving the restaurant choking. Other guests were getting up from their tables, eyes-watering and coughing, to get enough fresh air to be able to go back and get another bite of steak", wrote owner Michael Landrum on Don Rockwell. Another DR member, xcanuck, reported "The new dining room is gorgeous. Huge mirrors on the walls make the already large dining area seem even larger. The pirate flag is prominently displayed."

Former 2941 chefs Jonathan Krinn and Jon Mathieson recently opened Inox in Tysons Corner. Washingtonian's Best Bites Blog featured an early look at the restaurant (with menus), and reported that the modern spaces has 126 seats in the main dining room, 130 seats in four private areas, with additional bar seating for 30. Diners can look forward to starting their meal with the same house-made breads which were served at 2941.

The District Domestic describes Krinn and Mathieson as having "a unique synergy" which wins acclaim from media and diners. This week, TDD interviewed the pair to discover their thoughts on kitchen gadgets, overrated food techniques and customer pet peeves. Note to diners-arrive on time to ensure an exceptional service experience.

DC Foodies congratulates local blogger Tiffany of The Garden Apartment. Tiffany is an avid farmers market fan and conjures up delicious meals with her market bounty. Recently, Tiffany got her own page at the DC Examiner on-line as DC Farmers Market Examiner. Today she shared ideas for spending Valentine's Day with your someone special-at a farmers market. "Start your morning/ afternoon with the Market Lunch in the South Hall or a crepe from Crepes at Market", she suggests.

Local bloggers are responding to the previously reported ban on Roquefort cheese (due to a whopping 300% tariff) which will take effect in March. The Houndstooth Gourmet promptly went to Cheesetique to buy Roquefort (which by the way, sold 26 pounds in three days!) for a dish of mussels made with white wine, Roquefort, bacon and spinach. Sound familar? It's Granville Moore's Teddy Folkman's recipe which beat Bobby Flay's in Throwdown Moules Frites. Well, she used with Roquefort instead of blue cheese, but you get the idea.

Local co-blogger Cheese and Champagne is sponsoring Ode to Roquefort: Cheesy Poetry Contest. Submit your best cheesy poetry for a chance to win a "Free Roqefort!" t-shirt, and perhaps some bragging rights.

Finally, isn't everything better with bacon? Metrocurean shared a link to a URL that will slap a piece of bacon onto any site you want. Just add  before any web address, and you'll be drooling in no time.