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November 2009

Foodie To-Do List: Daring Pairings with Sparkling Wine, Beer and Cocktails

TodoAs part of an ongoing effort to alert you, the readers of DC Foodies, to all of the really cool food-related events, classes and opportunities throughout the Washington Metropolitan area, we give you this week's edition of the Foodie To-Do List.

Each Wednesday, we give you a heads-up on a few of the upcoming events that we think look particularly interesting.  This week, we've got:


Champagne and Sparkling Wine Tasting at OpenKitchen:

What: 
Andy Hoyle leads you through a tasting of seven different sparkling wines, with offerings from France, Spain, Italy, California and even Virginia in the mix.  Along the way, he'll offer up plenty of recommendations on ways to match these sparklers to your holiday feasts and nibbles.

When: 
Monday, November 30th
7-10 PM

Where: 
OpenKitchen
7115 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA

Why: 
There's a world of pairings beyond creamy cheeses and rich delicacies that are just begging to be discovered.  If you're smart, you'll take what you learn from this class and put it to good use with your favorite $12 bottle of cava or Trader Joe's Blason de Bourgogne for an upscale treat on a more down-to-earth budget.

Cost:
$75 for this hands (and lips) on tasting event.  To make a reservation or for more details, check out the website.


Beer Dinner at Granville Moore's:

What:
Okay, so technically every dinner at Granville Moore's is probably a beer dinner.  Even so, the kitchen crew have gone out of their way to serve up a five-course meal that's going to blow you away.  Oh yeah...and they've paired it up with five ridiculously good Belgian and Belgian-style beers.

When: 
Wednesday, December 2nd

Where:
Granville Moore's
1238 H Street, NE
Washington, DC

Why: 
Because you've probably never tried Southren Fried Frogs' Legs, Lobster Creme Brulee, or Ostrich Filet at all, nevermind paired with beers like Ommegang Hennepin and Duvel Green.  This will be a pairing event unlike any other you're likely to experience here in DC...and you know the guys at Granville's are serious about their beers.

Cost:
$70 per person.  Call (202) 399-2546 or email granvillemoores@gmail.com to respond.


Lucky Sevens Food and Cocktail Pairings at PS7's:

What:
When Gina Chersevani made the move to the bar at PS7's, foodies rejoiced.  It meant that one of DC's most creative cocktail talents would be paired up with one of DC's most creative chefs.  How could good things NOT come of this?  For those who are willing to call ahead and ask, they can - and do - in the form of seven-course tasting menus complete with paired cocktails in the lounge.

When: 
Available with one day's notice (earlier reports in Washingtonian indicate Tuesday-Saturday availabiility)

Where:
PS7's
777 Eye Street, NW
Washington, DC

Why:
Scorched milk?  Gnome's Water?  Basil Lemontini?  Forest Floor?  When it comes to creative cocktails, Gina hasn't written the book...but she should.  When she teams up with Chef Smith to match his menus, you end up with pairings that are just this side of heavenly.  You can even request a non-alcoholic cocktail flight (maybe not a bad idea for at least one person in your party), as Chersevani prides herself on offering almost every one of her creations with or without booze.

Cost: 
A seven-course meal with paired cocktails, all for $77?  I know...that's basically the cost of those seven cocktails on their own (not that we'd encourage you to drink seven cocktails on their own - but you get the point).  Call ahead to 202-742-8550 to reserve your spot, just remember the arrangements require 24 hours' advance notice.

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If you would like your events posted here, please email help@dcfoodies.com with the event info.


Last Minute Turkey Wines, and a Way to Perk Up Our Troops.

Thanksgiving is quite easily my favorite holiday. Sure, Christmas is great, but it's expensive these days; Halloween hasn't been anything worth getting excited about since I was like 10; Easter has kinda lost its charm since this lapsed Catholic has realized all the various ways in which he is damned. Thanksgiving, though, is perfect -- all the gluttony and overindulgence, without the crassness, and costumes, and guilt about going to hell and junk. But with all the prep work that comes with preparing for family, it's understandable for one to forget a detail or two. For those of you who left wine till the last minute this year, I've got a couple of quirky all-American crowd-pleasers that pair well with practically any meal.

DAVIDHILL David Hill Farm House White -- Non Vintage, Purchased at MacArthur Beverage for $13.99

David Hill is a small, 140 acre farm winery based out of Willamette Valley, Oregon. This humble field blend -- a mixture of Semillon, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Sylvaner -- pours a pretty, pale straw yellow. This wine gives up plenty of muscat grape, pear and golden delicious apple on the nose, along with tropical undertones. The attack is slightly sweet and a bit minty, leading on to more grape and some zesty lime, and ending with a pleasant dry finish. This combination of sweetness and high acidity is unusual in a wine of this price, and makes this one a winner with everything from appetizers to dessert.

EDMUNDS Edmunds St. John "That Old Black Magic" -- 2006, Purchased at Ace Beverage for $19.99

The Berkeley-based Edmunds St. John is one of the few domestic producers to specialize in Rhone varietals, and they make some really novel, food friendly wines. This blend of Grenache and Syrah offers lots of complicated autumnal scents on the nose, featuring overripe apple, curry spice, and dark berry fruit. Chewy tannin and dark plummy fruit lead into a medium-bodied, bold, velvety mid-palate, and a lengthy, fruit and curry flavored finish. This spicy treat would match well with any of your traditional Thanksgiving foods, and according to the label, is "Cellared and Bottled by Wayward Pilgrims of the Vine," making it an all but a perfect pickup.

STARBUCKS But of course, Thanksgiving is about more than just gluttony -- we Americans have plenty to be thankful for, and owe a lot to the people that protect us. If you find yourself in the Georgetown neighborhood in the next few weeks, take a swing by the Starbucks at 3122 M St., and pick up a coffee for our troops. Apparently, the US Army's 1st Cavalry Division is short on coffee, and one thoughtful Starbucks manager has decided to do something about it. When you pay for your latte, you can also pay for a few packets of Via -- Starbucks' new coffee concentrate -- which they will ship to our troops stationed in Baghdad. The thought of going through a day without caffeine makes me slightly sick; I can't even imagine doing so under the constant physical and mental stress inherent in combat. Though a cup of coffee might seem insignificant, to someone so far from home, undergoing such deprivation and hardship, even the smallest comfort can make a huge difference.


ChocoVine: A New Baileys Replacement Therapy?

CHOCO1 I have a problem with Baileys. No, not like a beef with it, more like an addiction. As soon as the weather gets cool, and the noon sun gets closer to the horizon, stores put up those stacks of shiny, shiny gift packs, and I invariably pick one up. "What the hell?" I ask myself, "I'll just have a glass or two after dinner." Yeah, right -- fast forward to 48 hours later, and that bottle is gone; that's twenty-some-odd bucks, down the hatch all too quickly.

There has got to be a better way! Oh, sure, I could try to exercise a bit of willpower, but I have no illusions about myself. As the nights get longer and the ol' melatonin levels drop lower, my willpower loses what little influence it ever exerts, and gets put away until March. But a $22 bottle of Irish cream every two days is just not sustainable. Thus was my curiosity piqued when I saw ChocoVine at a DC shop last week. As you can see from my picture, it looks kinda like Bailey's, and one of the gentlemen at the shop assured me that it tasted just like Baileys... and this for $12.99? I'd had cheaper Irish creams before and been less than satisfied, but this was something altogether different, and the price was right. Sold!

ChocoVine is a new beverage made in Holland from a combination of chocolate and Cabernet wine. According to its website, ChocoVine is "the perfect union of wine and chocolate," and sure to "create a near-orgasmic taste experience." Quite the claim! So I brought the ChocoVine home, and I am afraid it didn't quite get the reception I had hoped -- my girlfriend also likes the Baileys, but living with a crazed addict, she rarely gets to have any, and was disappointed by my knock-off replacement for the bottle I'd downed. But eventually, despite the cheesy trade dress and dubious origins, she was grudgingly won over, and I, too, felt my $13 gamble a success.

Choco2 ChocoVine, beyond opacity, doesn't really bear much resemblance to Baileys at all. For starters, it is thinner than Irish cream, though still quite thick, and almost buttery on the front. ChocoVine pours an odd shade of dark muddy brown, looking much as you might expect of a combination of red wine and chocolate. Though Baileys does have cocoa nibs in its recipe, ChocoVine tastes much more heavily of chocolate, and is markedly sweeter on the finish. In a nutshell, ChocoVine tastes like really strong chocolate milk, with the slightly gritty texture of a heavily cocoaed drink, and a slight bite thanks to its 14% abv.

Neat or on the rocks, Chocovine is a little cloying and oddly textured -- but shaken a bit with ice, it mellows out nicely, and develops a slightly foamy, more milk-like mouthfeel. We also sampled a few of the cocktails listed on the ChocoVine website, and found the Lady's Night (2 parts ChocoVine, 1 part Chambord, shaken with ice) to be a very pleasant nightcap, a fact I don't consider the least bit emasculating. Haven't tried it yet, but we've both been eyeballing that bottle of peppermint schnapps someone gifted us several years ago...

I picked up my bottle at Dixie Liquors (3429 M St NW), but I am pretty certain I have seen it pop up at several other stores in the last few weeks. Fellow closet dessert drink fiends, I will not go so far as to say that ChocoVine surpasses the glorious liquid crack that is Baileys, but it is a damned satisfying and versatile alternative for the money. Pick up a bottle and let me know what you think!



Foodie To-Do List: Restaurants Open Thanksgiving from Dining In to Carrying Out

TodoAs part of an ongoing effort to alert you, the readers of DC Foodies, to all of the really cool food-related events, classes and opportunities throughout the Washington Metropolitan area, we give you this week's edition of the Foodie To-Do List.

While we usually dish up a trio of upcoming events for you to put on your calendar, this week we're taking a look at some of the many restaurants offering Thanksgiving specials that can help take some (or all) of the stress off the host.  Whether you're looking to purchase pies, ship in some sides or just let the pros handle the whole meal, we've got you covered:

1789 Restaurant and Clyde's Restaurant Group:

The historic 1789 Restaurant, located at 1226 26th Street, NW in Georgetown, is creating a menu to satisfy both traditional and adventurous palates this Thanksgiving.  Available from 12 Noon to 9 p.m., the new seasonal a la carte menu will include oyster and Applewood smoked bacon gratin with braised salsify, aged gruyere and brioche croutons; sweet potato gnocchi with toasted walnuts, baby spinach and ricotta salata; fresh ham with roasted pineapple and Montgomery cheddar casserole served with stewed mustard greens and Blis Bourbon Barrel maple syrup glaze as well as braised beef short ribs served with honeyed parsnip puree, citrus baby carrots and horseradish jus.   A $50 fixed price (excluding gratuity and tax), three-course Thanksgiving menu is also an option, which includes a choice of pumpkin soup or bitter greens and citrus salad, turkey with all of the trimmings, and a full selection of desserts accompanied by coffee or tea.  Valet parking is complimentary.  For reservations please call (202) 965-1789.
 
Additionally, ten landmark restaurants within Clyde’s Restaurant Group will also be featuring a traditional Thanksgiving feast on Thursday, November 26th.  Turkey with all the trimmings is priced at $24.95 for adults and $14.95 for a child’s portion (exclusive of tax and gratuity).  Menu highlights include sage-sausage stuffing, green beans, whipped potatoes, glazed sweet potatoes, classic turkey gravy and cranberry sauce.  For dessert, guests will have a choice of apple or pecan pie à la mode or pumpkin pie topped with a dollop of whipped cream.  The full Thanksgiving menu will also be available to enjoy at the bar for those who would like to watch football.  For more information about the ten participating Clyde’s locations and hours of operation for Thanksgiving, please visit http://clydes.com/main/Whats_Happening.cfm?Section=Thanksgiving_2009.

701:
 
The aptly-named 701 is located at 701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. The recently renovatedrestaurant will feature a special Thanksgiving menu priced at $45 per person, excluding gratuity and tax.  The prix-fixe holiday menu is available from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and it features three courses of Modern American cuisine with choices including Alaskan King Crab Risotto with black trumpet mushrooms, squash, and wilted greens; Roast Pork Chop with potato gnocchi, baby vegetables, gala apple, and whole grain mustard butter; and the 701 Turkey Breast with duck confit stuffing, potato puree, root vegetable brunoise and cranberry relish. 701’s live jazz duo of piano and bass will be performing during the Thanksgiving service. Valet parking is available for $7. For more information and reservations please call (202) 393-0701.

Ardeo:

Ardeo, located at 3111 Connecticut Ave., NW, is presenting a three-course Thanksgiving dinner for $40 per person, excluding gratuity and tax.  Dishes include fennel pollen-crusted ahi tuna with fennel puree, wild arugula, cara cara orange; roasted Duroc pork loin with savoy cabbage, heirloom apple puree, baby carrots and the traditional roasted turkey with chestnut and sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, dried cranberry gravy. For dessert, try pumpkin bread pudding with vanilla crème anglaise and toasted pepitas. This holiday meal is available from 12 noon to 8 p.m. and valet parking is available for $5.  For reservations please call (202) 244-6750.

Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca:
 
The recently opened Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca, located at 1100 New York Ave NW (entrance on 12th and H Streets side), will feature a special Thanksgiving menu on November 26th from 12 noon to 8 p.m. The three-course pre-fixe menu is priced at $45 per person and will feature starters such as Castagne, chestnut soup with Cotechino sausage, grappa cream and seppie in umido and Adriatic fisherman’s cuttlefish stew with chickpea puree and flat parsley. Featured entrees include butternut squash ravioli, brown butter, sage, armanetti and the duo of turkey with free range turkey, potato mousseline, "Financiere"stuff.  Finish off the meal with seasonal desserts such as roasted carmel apple and butternut squash robiolita cheesecake, roasted butternut squash and cow's milk cheesecake on a pistachio crust with an amaretto anglaise. Valet parking is available for $8. For reservations or more information call (202) 216-9550.

Bombay Club:
 
The Bombay Club, located at 815 Connecticut Avenue, NW, will feature their popular Thanksgiving Day special, Tandoori Turkey, priced at $16 excluding gratuity and tax, in addition to the full a la carte menu.  =Tandoori Turkey presents boneless chunks of white meat, marinated with yogurt, ginger, garlic and fenugreek leaves. The Thanksgiving turkey is offered from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Bombay Club offers valet parking for $7. Reservations can be made by calling (202) 659-3727.

Bourbon Steak:

On Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26th, BOURBON STEAK will offer an a la carte menu from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. with holiday specials to include starters such as Brown Butter-Basted Maine Lobster with Acquerello Carnaroli Risotto and Perigord Black Truffle; Roasted Chestnut Soup with Foie Gras Cromesguis and Spices Marshmallows and Endive & Asian Pear Salad with Candied Walnuts, Pomegranate, Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue.  Entrée choices include Salt Roasted Prime Rib with Yorkshire Pudding, Horseradish Cream and Braised Oxtail; Glazed Duroc Pork Rack with Mustard Fruit and Stuffed Cabbage, as well as Roasted Ayreshire Farm Heirloom Turkey with Foie Gras Stuffing, Grilled Turkey Sausage and Cranberry-Orange Confit.  Dessert will feature Kabocha Squash Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butter Pecan Ice Cream, and Pumpkin Seed Nougatine; Winchester Apple Confit with Spiced Rum Financier and Goats Milk Dulce de Leche as well as Silken Chocolate Panna Cotta with Red Velvet Cake, Cocoa Nib Ice Cream and Crispy Beets, the perfect ending to any holiday feast.  Menu specials range from $11 to $44.

BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier and The Butcher's Block:

BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier will offer a special three-course Thanksgiving dinner. On Nov. 26, 2009, diners can enjoy a traditional turkey menu from 2:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. for $65 per person, excluding tax and gratuity.  They will begin with options such as mixed green salad with seasonal vegetables, raw and braised, with a lemon vinaigrette; duck confit ravioli submerged in a creamy squash soup or Scottish smoked salmon served with potato blini and quail eggs finished with crème fraîche. For the main course, entrées include a traditional turkey dinner with sweet potato purée, Brussels sprouts and cranberry relish, served with chestnut dressing and giblet gravy; seared Chesapeake Rockfish potato gnocchi, baby artichokes and wild mushrooms and a pan-seared rib eye steak, Pennsylvania mushrooms and potato purée served with a bordelaise sauce.  Dessert includes pumpkin pie served with a spiced crème fraîche and a pecan tart paired with bourbon ice cream and triple chocolate mousse terrine with white, milk and dark chocolate mousse, burnt orange cardamom sauce and pistachio tuile.
 
The Butcher’s Block, A Market by RW, is offering prepared dishes for Thanksgiving Day.  Guests can choose from Murray’s Amish Turkeys, ordered whole and raw at $4 per pound ranging in size from 10-14 lbs; 14-18 lbs and 18-20 lbs. each.  Prepared turkeys come as stuffed turkey breasts with poached and stuffed turkey thighs at $5.50 per pound.  Six side dishes are available, including chestnut stuffing, sweet potato purée, cranberry relish and traditional gravy and cost $9 - $20 each for six servings.  Traditional pumpkin pies will also be available for $20 each.  Orders must be received today (November 18) by calling (703) 894-5253 or emailing Salena.Zellers@braborestaurant.com.  All items must be picked up at The Butcher’s Block by 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25.

In preparation for America’s iconic dinner, The Butcher’s Block, A Market by RW will host a wine tasting and chef demonstration this evening, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009, at 6:00 p.m.  Potomac Selections’ Eric Hauptman will choose four wines to complement a Thanksgiving menu as Chef de Cuisine Chris Watson demonstrates how to break down, stuff and prep Murray’s Amish Turkey.
 
BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier, BRABO Tasting Room and The Butcher’s Block, a Market by RW, are located at 1600 King Street in Alexandria, Virginia, adjacent to Kimpton’s new Lorien Hotel & Spa.  For reservations or additional information, please call (703) 894-3440 or visit http://www.braborestaurant.com/.

Co Co. Sala:

Bring home one of Co Co. Sala's Precious Pies ($18 - $22), with festive flavors such as Triple Chocolate Pecan Pie and Maple Co Co. Pumpkin Pie.  Also available, Thanksgiving-themed treats such as the Hot Harvest Bar with habanero crunch and cinnamon bits ($6), the Somethin' Pumpkin Bar with pumpkin spiced chocolate truffle ($5), White Cran-Orange Bar with cranberries, oranges & pretzel sticks ($6) and Chocolate Turkey Place Card Holders ($4).

For those spending the holiday with friends & family, Co Co. Sala has designed the perfect dessert package to complete any Thanksgiving feast.  Each 'Thanksgiving Dessert Buffet To-Go' is styled in a custom leather tray and filled with the following Fall favorites:

Triple Chocolate Pecan Pie
Maple Co Co. Pumpkin Pie
Caramelized Apple & Cinnamon Cheesecake Tart
4 Chocolate & Pumpkin Seed Brittle Barks
4 Chocolate & Caramel Baby Apples
4 Chocolate Turkey Place Card Holders

Each package is priced at $115. Orders will be taken until Monday, November 23rd and must be picked-up by Wednesday, November 25th.  Co Co. Sala is located at 929 F Street, NW; Washington, DC (202-347-4265; www.cocosala.com).

CommonWealth:
 
CommonWealth is offering a special family-style Thanksgiving roast featuring a three-course menu of seasonal dishes. The Thanksgiving feast will be offered from 1 p.m.-8 p.m. for $35 per person, excluding gratuity and tax. The menu includes comforting holiday favorites such as roast turkey with cranberry sauce, roast beef with shallot au jus, and sides such as winter squash gratin, collard greens, and two kinds of stuffing. Guests can also choose from the a la carte menu of British-inspired snacks ranging in price from $5-$13 and the pub menu will be offered from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Complementing the comfort fare with autumnal flavors, CommonWealth boasts an impressive selection of UK and American beers. Located at 1400 Irving Street NW, CommonWealth will be accepting reservations at (202) 265-1400.

Firefly:

LincolnThanksgiving at Firefly
President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a National Holiday.  In honor of Lincoln’s proclamation, Firefly is collecting Lincolns, a.k.a $5 bills from all guests throughout the month of November.  All funds collected will be donated to DC Central Kitchen - www.dccentralkitchen.org.  For every ‘Lincoln’ collected, $5 will be deducted from the guest’s final check.  **$5 check credit is limited to $5 per person. Firefly is located at 1310 New Hampshire Avenue, NW – www.firefly-dc.com  

The Grille at Morrison House:

This year, The Grille at Morrison House will offer an a la carte menu as well as a Thanksgiving tasting menu for $85.  Dishes on the tasting menu include a pig in a blanket amuse with pork Daube in phyllo, first course apple and parsnip bisque served with duck confit, apple chips and cinnamon mascarpone, a second course tasting of oyster “po-boy” featuring blue point oyster fritters, comeback sauce and cole slaw, a third course tasting of pan-roasted rockfish with clams, fingerling potatoes, spinach and a chowder cream.  Fall Trio, an intermezzo of pear granite, apple paper and apple cider gelée will be served before the turkey dinner entrée of turkey roulade, turkey leg confit, cranberry chutney, pomme purée, brioche chanterelle dressing, haricots verts, sweet potato “pie” and a sage-turkey gravy.  A sweet treat of pumpkin bread pudding, maple crème brulee and apple cider foam finishes the meal. 

The a la carte menu features appetizer options of a waldorf salad ($11) with butter lettuce, apple, red flame grapes, toasted walnuts and celery aioli, apple and parsnip bisque ($12) and oyster “po-boy” ($14).  Entrée choices include turkey day dinner ($44), ribeye steak ($40), and rockfish ($33).  Dessert options include individual apple pie tarts with caramel sauce ($10), pumpkin tasting ($11), and trio of chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon ice cream ($7.50).  A kid’s menu is available for $30 and includes fruit and berries to start, a turkey day dinner of turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans and gravy, and chocolate chip cookies and ice cream. Tasting menu price is exclusive of beverages, taxes and gratuity.  For reservations and more information call 703-838-8000.  
 
Jackson 20:

Jackson 20 will serve up a three-course family style meal of good old comfort food this Thanksgiving.  Chef Dennis Marron’s first course features include a fall market salad with candied walnuts, goat cheese and cranberry vinaigrette and a roasted pumpkin and parsnip soup.  The bird of the day, a Southern-style roasted farm-raised Virginia turkey will be served with braised collard greens, candied yams and cornbread stuffing.  Traditional desserts include sweet potato pie, and southern pecan pie served with caramel sauce and whipped cream. The special menu, which is the only menu being offered on Thanksgiving Day, will be available from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  The meal will be served family style and is priced at $45 per person, exclusive of beverages, taxes and gratuity.  Kids 6-12 are $20 each and children under 6 eat for free.  For reservations and more information call 703.842.2790 or visit www.jackson20.com

The Oval Room:
 
=The Oval Room, located at 800 Connecticut Avenue, NW, =is preparing a three-course holiday menu from 12 noon to 8 p.m., priced at $50 per person, excluding gratuity and tax.  Highlights from their Thanksgiving menu include autumn vegetable salad with pomegranate, parsley and warn bacon vinaigrette; charred foie gras ravioli with ice wine reduction and liquid gingerbread; free range turkey with chestnut stuffing and sweet potato puree and Snake River Farms pork with cranberry-miso and salsify and celery gnocchi. Valet parking is available at The Oval Room for $7. For reservations, please call (202) 463-8700.

Rasika:
 
Rasika, located at 633 D Street, NW is adding Turkey Pasanda (turkey breast stuffed with cranberry and pistachio with a saffron and cashew nut sauce) to its a la carte menu for Thanksgiving.  The turkey dish is accompanied by butternut squash bharta and chili Brussels sprouts for $16 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity.  The complete a la carte menu is also available on Thanksgiving Day and Rasika will feature seatings from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Valet parking is available for $7. Reservations can be made by calling (202) 637-1222.

Redwood:
 
Just north of Washington in Bethesda Row, Redwood at 7121 Bethesda Lane, Bethesda, MD, is offering a three-course Thanksgiving feast highlighting naturally raised and locally sourced ingredients.  The American harvest menu will be available from 12 Noon to 6 PM and is priced at $59 for adults and $29 for children under the age of 12.  Guests can choose from first course options such as shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad and butternut squash soup.  Roasted turkey and baked ham will be the main attraction and will be served family-style with mashed potatoes, sweet potato gratin, leek and brioche stuffing and roasted fall vegetables.  For dessert, guests can choose from pumpkin or pecan pie.  For reservations or additional information please call (301) 656-5515 or visit www.redwoodbethesda.com.

Restaurant 3:

From 1pm-6pm on Thanksgiving Day, Restaurant 3 will offer guests a three-course Thanksgiving meal of Southern favorites for $33 per person, exclusive of beverages, tax and gratuity ($15 for children). Reservations for the festive Southern Thanksgiving may be made by calling the restaurant at (703) 524-4440 or online at www.opentable.com. The full Thanksgiving menu is listed below. 
 
A Southern Thanksgiving

Hot Cornbread & Sweet Butter
 
Butternut Squash Soup
or
Garden Greens Salad
 
Traditional Turkey dinner with stuffing , mashed potatoes and vegetables
or
Stuffed Pork Loin with apple-sausage stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes & green bean casserole
or
Southern Fried Catfish with Hoppin’ Jon & greens
 
Turducken. (Go on, we dare you) mashed potatoes and creamed corn
 
Dessert bar with homemade pumpkin pie and apple cobbler
 
3 is located at 2950 Clarendon Blvd. in Arlington, VA, across the Clarendon Metro Station. For more information or reservations please call 703-524-4440 or visit the website at www.restaurantthree.com.

Trummer's On Main:

Take a break from cooking at home this year and make your way to Trummer's On Main to enjoy a three-course Thanksgiving dinner.  At $59 per person, this three-course menu includes favorites such as Waldorf Salad, Turkey with cranberry jam & pumpkin puree and Pumpkin Panna Cotta with cinnamon & walnuts.  Pair the meal with a specialty cocktail like the seasonal Hot Spice Sangria and Pumpkin Daiquiri or a more traditional wine pairing.  Trummer's On Main will be open from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on November 26th, to make a reservation call 703-266-1623.  Trummer's On Main is located at 7134 Main Street; Clifton, Virginia (703-266-1623; www.trummersonmain.com).

Urbana:
 
Food Drive at Urbana
Beginning on Friday, the 20th of November, and available throughout the week of Thanksgiving (through November 29th), guests who visit Urbana Restaurant and Wine Bar with a non-perishable food item will receive a choice of appetizer or house-selected wine.  All food collected will be donated to Dupont Circle’s Church of the Pilgrims, located at 2021 P Street, NW.  Urbana is located at 2121 P Street, NW – www.urbanadc.com 

We know there are plenty of other options out there for Thanksgiving - both in terms of restaurants offering specials for those who prefer to dine out and in terms of selling a la carte items like turkey breasts, sides and desserts.  Let us know what we've missed!

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If you would like your events posted here, please email help@dcfoodies.com with the event info.


Maryland brewery tour: Frederick and Flying Dog

FD7

I love me a brewery tour. Maybe it's the chance to see how my favorite beverage is made. Maybe it's the chance to meet the brewers. Maybe it's the beer.

It's probably the beer.

Aside from the brewpubs we have in D.C., the District is devoid of any beer makers. However, our northern neighbors have two outstanding breweries, each just a 45 minute drive away: Flying Dog in Frederick, Md., and Clipper City in Baltimore. And once you're done at the breweries, both cities offer other great destinations, including brewpubs (pace yourself).

A few years ago, my wife and I toured Scotland by Scotch distillery. It gave us the excuse to visit a number of small towns and villages, including Oban and Pitlochry, that we would've otherwise driven through or avoided altogether. I'm applying the same approach to visiting Frederick and Baltimore.

I don't know about you, but it's hard enough for me to find a reason to wander into Bethesda or Alexandria. So Frederick and Baltimore might as well be in Maine. But the promise of checking out the inner workings of two outstanding craft breweries is enough to draw me out of the District.

For this two part series, I'll first focus on Frederick, Md., and Flying Dog Brewery, followed by a look at Charm City by way of Clipper City.

FD2 Flying Dog is one of the very best craft beer makers in the country. These are the good folks who brought us Gonzo Imperial Porter, Double Dog Double Pale Ale, and Raging Bitch (not making that up), their new Belgian-style IPA. Ralph Steadman, the man who illustrated Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 , illustrates Flying Dog's beer labels. And the brewery was just named the 2009 Mid-Sized Brewing Company of the Year.

Oh, and they have a hand pump in the tasting room and will soon begin offering one-offs of their beer exclusively in the tasting room (first up: chocolate Belgian stout). People, if you haven't headed up to the brewery yet, why?

(A quick -- bitter -- aside. For the past couple months I've been working on a piece on bars in the D.C. area that have hand pumps. So I dropped a few F-bombs last Wednesday when I saw that the Washington Post had two - two! - articles dedicated to hand pumps and cask ales. Blake Gopnik and Greg Kitsock did a nice job on both articles, though Kitsock didn't mention District Chophouse in his rundown of bars with beer engines. Take that, old man! Anyway, enjoy all the shots of hand pumps I took. Damn it.)

By all rights, Flying Dog should still be in Colorado. As big a fan as I am about many of our East Coast breweries, Colorado and Oregon are the twin Meccas of American craft brewing. Until a few years ago, Flying Dog was located in Aspen, Colo., where George Stranahan and Richard McIntyre launched the company as a brewpub. In time, the Flying Dog folks realized most of their business was on the East Coast. So in 2006, they left Colorado and moved into Frederick's Wild Goose brewery, which they had purchased a few years earlier to handle their East Coast accounts. Today, the brewery produces not only Flying Dog beers, but also Wild Goose, Terrapin and a few other micro beers on contract.

FD3 You wouldn't know that walking into the tasting room. The room at the front of the brewery looks like a Ralph Steadman art bar. Steadman's paintings and illustrations hang behind the bar and around the room, while the tap line is full rundown of Flying Dog's sizable array of beers. In addition to the regular taps, the tasting room's bar has a nitrogen tap and the aforementioned beer engine. Outside, the windows are ringed by hop vines and the trellised patio almost makes you forget you're drinking in an industrial park.

FD4 For $5, Brian Arnold (left), Chet Hopper or one of Flying Dog's other staffers will walk you through the brewery and pour you five 6 ounce samples (in truth, I got six samples when Brian offered everyone a taste of Doggy Style Pale Ale straight from the bright tank). For the most part, a brewery tour is a brewery tour, so I'm always interested in the little details. At Flying Dog, it was the pairs of boots hanging off a pipe over the brewing floor. Apparently, when Flying Dog staff leave the brewery, they get to toss their boots over the pipe. You have to like that (well, that and the beer from the bright tank).

After the tour and samples, I headed into downtown Frederick. Thanks to Bryan Voltaggio, Frederick is on the foodie map. The Top Chef contestant's restaurant Volt made it into the Washington Post's Dining Guide and the chef's table - Table 21 - is booked into next year (my reservations are for April 2010).

FD5 On the day I was visiting, Frederick was holding its In the Street festival, an event celebrating the city's historic downtown. Flying Dog had three booths spread out across the festival, one of which was in Volt's parking lot. That's where I ran into Stephanie Hinote, the brewery's marketing director. She was making the rounds to Flying Dog's booths where they were passing out samples of Raging Bitch. Like the tour, the booths were manned by Flying Dog's brewery staff, including brewer Larry Pomerantz, who made the Colorado to Maryland move with the brewery, and cellar tech David Kozloski, who worked at Virginia's Breaux Vineyards before joining Flying Dog (left and right in the photo, respectively).

Why the Flying Dog roll call? Because I thought it was nice that Larry, David and the other Flying Dog folks were hanging out at the festival, drinking a few beers and pressing the flesh with their Frederick neighbors. The brewery could just have easily recruited volunteers. They didn't and good for them.

Now, Flying Dog is the big brewery and Voltaggio is the big star, but there's a lot more to Frederick. There's Brewer's Alley. If it weren't for Flying Dog, Brewer's Alley would be Frederick's destination for beer geeks. And unlike the big brewery, Brewer's Alley serves food.

FD6 The brewpub produces 15 year-round and seasonal beers and offers a menu that ranges from bar fare (burgers, barbecue, pizza) to fancier options (London broil, bone-in pork chops, house-smoked Atlantic salmon). Try the two dozen raw oyster for $20. It's tough finding quality raw oysters that cheap in this area, so take advantage of the deal.

Oh, and try the IPA. It's excellent with the oysters.

A tip from Stephanie led me a block down Frederick's main drag, Market Street, to Firestone's. Like Brewer's Alley, it offers an upscale pub menu. Unlike Brewer's Alley, it pours other people's beer. It's a good place. Try the burger and truffle fries. The fries were salty, earthy and garlicky, while the burger was big, juicy and as bloody as I ordered it. Now you could wash it all down with one of the craft beers off their beer menu, or you could get a Flying Dog draft. At this point, I leave it up to you.

So there you go: a Top Chef chef, a quaint downtown, and a great dining scene, all less than an hour's drive away. If you haven't visited Frederick yet, maybe a tour of Flying Dog and its tasting room is just the excuse you need.

Additional photos of Flying Dog and Frederick are available here.


Recession Refreshment: Meet John B.

Johnb Meet John B. Exotic foreign type (he's from South Africa!) -- White, and on the young side, with a light build, and racy personality. The perfect companion for a quiet dinner at home (he loves Indian and Lebanese), but always down for a party. John B. will entertain groups of any size, so invite your friends. Though adventurous, John B. is also traditional, and will certainly make a good impression on your parents this holiday season. Non-judgmental, discreet, and cheap, John B. will take on any and all callers. Sound like your kind of guy? Read on for details...

Sorry ladies and gents, but John B., though available, is not a man, but a wine (I know, right? I totally fooled you!). Nevertheless, the Rietvalli 'John B.' Sauvignon Blanc / Colombar 2008 is a hell of a catch. Made with 60% of the ubiquitous Sauvignon Blanc -- which grows well in the country's southwest -- John B. is blended with 40% of the lesser know Colombar. Know as 'Colombard' in France and the US, this grape is heavily planted for its productivity and ample acidity, and is a primary ingredient in both Armagnac and Cognac. Reliable, and most importantly, cheap, this grape is also a frequent ingredient in box and jug wines, where it is very rarely featured on the label.

In John B., the Colombar's natural acidity and straw notes shine through winningly. This pretty, pale straw colored wine displays notes of pineapple, lemon zest, and dried grass on the nose. It is very dry on the attack, starting out with tart acid, which quickly evolves into clementine, pear, and peppery flavors. The finish is tangy and zippy, with those citrus qualities continuing to dominate the surprisingly lengthy finish.

Seem worth checking out? Well, don't take my word for it -- the John B. was just ranked #5 in Wine Enthusiast Magazine's "Best Buys of 2009" list. Here is what editor Susan Kostrzewa had to say:

Fruity, floral and feminine, this cheerful white blends Sauvignon Blanc and Colombar. On the nose—lemon zest, minerals and tropical fruit—and on the palate, fruity but crisp citrus flavors are balanced by fresh acidity. Want a go-to summer white for everything from grilled seafood to Indian cuisine? Check this out. (88 Points)

I picked this one up at Potomac Wines and Spirits for a mere $5.99, and according to their website, Calvert Woodley has it for the same price. This wine, though not terribly wintry, is a great match with lighter fare, like the aforementioned Indian, fish, salads, lighter chicken dishes, and almost anything spicy.



Food & Friends' Slice of Life: Eat some Pie... for Charity!

SLICE So, honestly, can someone name me something better than pie? Okay, there is Thanksgiving dinner, that's pretty good... and made even better when topped off with pie. So what's best of all, then? How about Thanksgiving, pie, and the feeling of knowing that your dessert helped feed some people in need?

For 20 years, Food & Friends has supported thousands of our neighbors living with cancer, AIDS, and other life-threatening illnesses, providing them with groceries, hot meals and nutritional counseling. Through the diligent work of some 6,500 staff and volunteers, Food & Friends prepares and delivers over 3,000 meals a days, disseminating them to 2,600 clients in DC and surrounding counties.

Of course, even with the most dedicated staff in the world, delivering a million meals a year doesn't come cheap. That's where you come in. Enter Slice of Life, F & F's annual city-wide bake sale. For the third year running, Slice of Life offers a selection of delicious handmade pies, delivered to a number of convenient neighborhood locations, available for pickup on Tuesday, November 24th. Every pie you buy pays for a full day's meals for one of F & F's clients; buy a pie for one of said clients, and you will be automatically entered in a drawing for two free round-trip airline tickets. The 10" pies come in five great flavors:

Picture Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving would not be complete without this traditional favorite. The creamy pumpkin filling, in a delectable crust, has the perfect mix of spices and great pumpkin flavor. You'll certainly want to more than one for your family and friends. $25

Harvest Apple Crumb Pie

Perfectly flaky with just the right amount of sweetness, you'll enjoy this classic pie filled with a bushel of apples, spices and topped with sweet crumbles. Whether you serve your pie alone or a la mode, it's a must have. $25

Oh So Sweet Potato Pie

For many, Thanksgiving means Sweet Potato Pie. This southern specialty, filled with creamy bright orange sweet potatoes, cinnamon and nutmeg is sure to warm the hearts of your holiday guests. $25

Southern Pecan Pie
Embrace true hospitality by sharing this Southern treat with your holiday guests. Ya'll will love this delicious buttery crust, loads of pecans and sweet gooey filling. $35 

Creamy Chocolate Cheesecake
A chocolate lover's delight! Your guests will go crazy over this rich, creamy cheesecake topped with a decadent dark chocolate ganache. It is sure to be a crowd pleaser. $35

Pies are available for purchase here at Food & Friends' website, where you can also register to volunteer on pickup day.

We all know store-bought crust doesn't taste right, and that you just don't have time to make it yourself from scratch! Complete the meal, and do some folks a solid, by visiting that website by Thursday, November 19th — I promise, your dessert will taste all the sweeter for the effort.

UPDATE: Lisa Shapiro of Dining in DC has pulled together a team of local food bloggers to help move some pies. Help team "Food Bloggers for a Cause" meet their fundraising goal by buying your pies here!


Co Co. Sala: Chocolate lovers' lounge takes a walk on the savory side, awkwardly

CoCo1 Co Co. Sala is a chocolate lounge and boutique that caters to a late night crowd. It says so right on its Web site.

For the most part, that makes sense. It's evening menu is dominated by an array of (mostly) chocolate desserts. At either of its two bars, you can order a chocolate stout or Co Co. Sala's signature cocktail, the cocojito (I'd encourage you to do so. It's quite good. Also try the flight of scotches. Good stuff and a surprise find in the chocolate lounge.) And stationed around the lounge and boutique are blocks and boxes of chocolates for sale, which are made in the back, behind a window, allowing you to watch the chocolatiers at work. Even the décor is heavily accented in reddish brown chocolate tones.

So I get it, Co Co. Sala is a chocolate lounge and boutique. What I don't get is Co Co. Sala's other side. Is it also a restaurant? Should I keep it in mind for lunch or on Sunday for brunch? How about in the evening before I wade into the dessert menu, should I expect to have dinner beforehand?

CoCo3 I don't know. To try and figure this out, I recruited the services of my wife, Trish. She's exactly the kind of chocolate lover Co Co. Sala is courting. Whatever my thoughts are about its savory offerings, Co Co. Sala is a chocolate and dessert destination.

That said, let's start with the savory and end with sweet (that is the natural order of things after all).

My first visit to Co Co. Sala led me to the bar. Now, I either learned that day that Co Co. Sala doesn't have appetizers or has nothing but appetizers. It depends on how you look at it.

The evening menu offers a dozen small savory dishes; from lobster salad, to a blue cheese beef slider, to mac and cheese. I opted for the Moroccan swordfish slider, which came out as a beautifully grilled piece of fish nestled within a tiny, soft bun. It was great. But it was tiny and it was eight bucks.

That's where my main beef with Co Co. Sala lies. With dessert, a little goes a long way. But with savory dishes, more is more (to a point). Put another way, three of those sliders would have made a nice sized appetizer, but it would have put me back nearly $30. That's more than most entrees around town.

So Co Co. Sala isn't a dinner destination. If you want to come in for a five-course dessert, but want to start with tuna tartar, they've got you covered.

During the day, however, Co Co. Sala shifts its focus away from dessert in an effort to attract the lunch and Sunday brunch crowd. Admittedly, I've never tried Co Co. Sala's brunch, but judging from my lunch experience, I imagine it's good.

The problem is, Co Co. Sala is a chocolate lounge that caters to an evening crowd, not a lunch destination in a neighborhood (Penn Quarter) that's loaded with restaurants.  

CoCo2 This is not to say Co Co. Sala can't do lunch. During a recent lunch, my beet and goat cheese salad was delicious and colorful. The spinach and feta tart with tiger shrimp was a surprise when it came out as a spinach and feta tart, with tiger shrimp in a dill sauce on the side. Still, it was quite good (the tart tasted exactly like a Pizza Hut pan pizza. I like Pizza Hut pan pizza.) The salami and parmigiano-reggiano sandwich my buddy ordered was good, though it could have used less bread and more meat. But the parmesan and rosemary fries he got were reason enough to make Co Co. Sala a regular lunch destination.

So Co Co. Sala can do savory. It just doesn't seem like it wants to. Or if it does, the savory parts of the menu don't seem well thought out. Although the lounge introduced the lunch service and does brunch, it still feels like a lounge. In the evening, when diners and dates fill the low tables and booths, Co Co. Sala looks like it's fulfilling the vision of owners Nisha Sidhu and Bharet Malhotra. But during the day, when a handful of diners are slumped over the same small tables eating salami sandwiches and drinking iced tea, I have to assume that this is less the vision and more a means of making a few extra dollars.

If I'm right, Sidhu and Malhotra should put some effort into their savory menus and make Co Co. Sala the lunch and dinner spot they seem to be flirting with. Otherwise, they should stick with what they do best: dessert after dark.

Speaking of that, I'll have Trish talk about the desserts...

Trish's Take

So much chocolate, so little time (and money). What's a chocolate-lover to do when confronted by a menu that's at least 75% chocolate?  It took me quite some time to figure out what to order. I'd eaten at Coco Sala before, but I hadn't had the appetite to order one of their multi-course dessert offerings. This time I was ready.

To start, beverages.  I'm currently in my third trimester of pregnancy, and so unable to enjoy Co Co. Sala's interesting chocolate-themed cocktails on the menu. Unfortunately only one of the drinks is made "virgin," but it lacks chocolate. (For the majority of you who are not in the family way, I highly recommend the cocojito, which I tried some months before the pregnancy. The combination of chocolate with tart citrus and mint is irresistible.) 

CoCo4 Happily, the flight of hot chocolates came to my rescue. There are five to choose from, and of the three I had, two could be dessert in their own right. I didn't enjoy the white chocolate, which I tried because I wanted to step outside my dark chocolate comfort zone. After a few sips it reminded me of sweetened, condensed-milk, straight up. But the peanut butter milk chocolate, and the dark chocolate were divine.  The peanut butter milk chocolate was rich, silky, and salty with peanut flavor. A cup of this would more than suffice as a dessert after a full meal. The dark chocolate was lighter and more bitter by comparison, although the chocolate flavor was not as strong as I would've liked. 

As much as I enjoyed the hot chocolates, I was there for the Monde du Chocolat, Co Co. Sala's selection of 3 and 5-course desserts. After a brief flirtation with the Asian-themed course, I settled on the Italian 3-course because I'm a huge sucker for good tiramisu, the star of the main dessert course.

Three flavors of tiramisu are offered as the "main dessert," with a small dessert course before and after. Before I get to the tiramisu, however, let me praise that first little dessert - a vanilla panna cotta bite with chocolate praline soup. I'm not that excited about vanilla, but I got excited about this dish. The vanilla flavor was so clean and pure I could've happily eaten more than just the three or four tiny spoonfuls that were offered. The chocolate praline soup was second-fiddle at best. But then came three varieties of tiramisu (top photo).

Surprisingly, the "traditional" variety was forgettable: it lacked enough chocolate and espresso to make it worth the calories. The fraise-de-bois, on the other hand, was a knock-out. I would never have thought to put strawberry and espresso together, but they were a wonderful combination with the creamy interior of the tiramisu. The final tiramisu -- chocolate tiramisu -- was just the dark, bitter chocolate hit I was looking for. For all you dark-chocolate lovers out there, this is your tiramisu: everything is chocolate-soaked. The final course of two small Italian cookies included a very interesting ricotta cheese bite, whose light sweetness I thoroughly enjoyed after the tongue-coating dark-chocolate. 

CoCo5 Drew's not as into chocolate as I am (that is a significant understatement), but he ordered the main course of the "Xocolatyl: Aztec Experience" trio. The star of the plate was undeniably the tiny chipotle truffle, which had the perfect balance of deep chocolate richness and heat. I've had the pepper/chocolate combination before, but rarely have I tasted it so well executed. The hot chocolate souffle was everyone else's favorite, but I found it bland. (Note from Drew: I really did like this dessert. The sweet/heat thing isn't always done well. It is at Co Co. Sala.)

Overall, Co Co. Sala's sweet offerings provide something for everyone. If you're not a fan of big, rich dark chocolate flavors like me, there's still plenty for you to enjoy. (If you don't want any dessert at all, you're in the wrong place.)  And if you're just looking for a chocolate fix, skip the Monde du Chocolat and head for the "Dolce" selection of small plates where you can find a selection of artfully decorated artisanal chocolates with a variety of fillings that will hit the spot without filling you to the point of popping.

Co Co. Sala
929 F St NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 347-4265
Map