Paul Bakery and Pâtisserie Opens Its Sixth DC-Area Location at Metro Center

I’m always excited when a new Paul bakery opens in the District but I’m particularly excited about this one since it’s very close to my husband’s office. I’m expecting fresh baguettes (Paul’s breads are made daily from organic, locally sourced flour milled exclusively for Paul, without additives or preservatives) every other day from now on 😉

paul bakery, new paul bakery dc, paul in dc

Photo Credit: Jason Colston for PAUL USA

The new location at Metro Center (555 13th Street NW) is similar in design to the other 5 Paul locations around town, with bistro tables for 20 people outside (while the weather allows), and plush armchairs and tables for 30 inside. I’m sure it will quickly become a popular destination for office workers in the area!

Photo Credit: Jason Colston for PAUL USA

Photo Credit: Jason Colston for PAUL USA

The menu is also similar to that of all of the other Paul and I can’t wait for Paul to roll out its fall menu (I’m a big fan of the tarte citrouille and tarte pecan and cranberry!)

macaron, paul, Paul bakeries, paul macarons

Assortiment of mini-tarts and macarons (flavours: fig, strawberry chocolate, gianduja, lime, orange-speculoos, and creme brûlée)

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying the seasonal macarons favours (of course) especially crème brûlée and fig. Do you ever eat at Paul Bakery? What’s your favourite item on their menu?

 

Urban Stems Teams Up With Olivia Macaron for Mother’s Day

I can’t think of two things that go more perfectly together than flowers and macarons. Ok, maybe bubbles would make a perfect trio! Urban Stems is a new DC-based flower delivery service For Mother’s Day, they’re teaming up with one of my favourite also new DC business, Olivia Macaron, and introducing the perfect Mother’s Day Package: “Blooms ‘n Macarons.”

 

macaron, Blooms 'n Macarons, mother's day, flower,

Urban Stems & Olivia Macaron team up for Mother’s day – Pic courtesy of Olivia Macaron

 

The $45 combo includes a box of 6 macarons from Olivia Macarons and Urban Stem‘s signature Spring Mix. It’s available for pre-order already at www.urbanstems.com and will be available for local delivery and in-store pick-up through Olivia Macaron (202-965-1000), starting this weekend. Now I kinda wish that my mom lived in the area 😉

ps: Mother’s Day is Sunday May 11 in the United States and May 25 in France.

The Sweeter Side of Red Apron Butcher

Red Apron Butcher is a meat-lovers’ heaven and I gave up meat for lent. So, understandably, I was a little hesitant to check out their newest location at 709 D Street, NW. But then the tweets and instagram posts starting coming in. About their tigelles breakfast sandwiches, their scones… and their macarons. Now I had to go 😉

Red Apron Butcher in DC's Chinatown

Red Apron Butcher’s latest location in DC’s Chinatown is its third and largest to date

Tiffany MacIsaac, executive pastry chef for the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, not only bakes all the bread for Red Apron’s lunch sandwiches, she also bakes pastries for the shop, including scones, a raspberry jelly filled beignet and macarons. What makes the scones and macarons special is that they’re made with lard from pigs butchered at the Red Apron commissary.

It took me a few visits to finally get my hands on some of the macarons. They seem to be quite popular and run out pretty quickly… in the meantime, I tried some of Red Apron’s other offerings. I loved the scone, and loved the raspberry jelly filled beignet even more.

The tigelle has yet to win me over, perhaps because I was limited to trying the lone vegetarian offering, “The Aristocrat,” made with ricotta, honey, smoked pine nuts, and gala apple. A tigelle is basically a skinny Italian style English muffin made with lard and pressed in a special iron that imprints a pretty pattern on the bread. At Red Apron, chef Ned Anda actually substitutes the lard with olive oil, though he still puts in a little bit of pig fat inside each sandwich. It makes a delicate, but not filling, little breakfast sandwich. The tigelles with meat sounded a lot more enticing and I can’t wait to try those, in about 19 days and 13 hours… but who’s counting.

The Aristocrat Tigelle at Red Apron Butcher

The Aristocrat, the lone vegetarian tigelle on the menu, is served on a cookie tray .

Finally, I got my hands on three macarons: a bright purple peanut butter and jelly, a Nutella and the infamous Oreo macaron, made with whipped lard and honey.

Macarons from Red Apron Butcher in Chinatown

From top to bottom: peanut butter and jelly, Nutella and Oreo.

Oreo macaron from Red Apron Butcher in Chinatown

The Oreo macaron from Red Apron Butcher in Chinatown

The Nutella macaron was more chocolate-y than Nutella-y and all were a bit on the dry side. Though I’m glad I tried them, I probably won’t rush back to buy more. But I will definitely return to Red Apron Butcher and its now open adjoining restaurant The Partisan to eat my way through chefs Nate Anda and Ed Witt’s offerings and menu. And get more beignets. That beignet was good!

A French Twist on A Saint Patrick’s Day Menu

Let’s face it, i’m too old for green beer and bar hoping. I’m also not Irish in the slightest 😉 But it’s Saint Patrick’s Day and I still wanted to do a little something for the occasion. So I did what French people do and had a few people over for dinner and served a not-so-traditional Irish feast… with a French Twist of course.

Menu de la Saint Patrice

Irish Onion Soup

Guinness Glazed Lamb Chops with Irish Cheddar Cauliflower Gratin 

Bread Pudding with Irish Whiskey Caramel Sauce

French Twist on A Saint Patrick's Day Menu

My inspiration was Guinness. The French use red wine in a lot of dishes, and I thought what can I make where I can sub Guinness for red wine? Plus, once I had bought a four pack I was determined to put it in everything 😉 Starting with a French Irish onion soup. Now we were expecting some snow too, so this type of earthy soup was the perfect way to kick off the meal. Since I gave up meat for lent, I was glad to have slightly more vegetarian-friendly version of the soup too. I’ve been making French onion soup for so long, I don’t really follow any recipe anymore but if you need one, this Tyler Florence one is pretty good and close to what I do. To give it a little Irish flair, I subbed the red wine for Guinness as well as the beef broth for half vegetable broth and half Guinness (I was trying to keep it vegetarian friendly).

Irish Onion Soup

For the main courses, I found all of the ingredients very easily at Safeway.

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I came across this amazing recipe for Guinness glazed lamb chops on Epicurious, which I thought would be the perfect main dish to go along the recipe that brought me to Epicurious’ website tonight in the first place: Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar Sauce. That recipe was part of a great menu that Ireland native Chef Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, VA created for the magazine. He paired it with braised lamb shoulder, which sounded great too but as I said, I really wanted to integrate Guinness in a lot of the dishes I made.
The roasted cauliflower with cheddar sauce is basically a cauliflower gratin, a pretty traditional French dish with bechamel, that subs gruyere for Kerrygold Irish Aged Cheddar to give it an Irish accent. And it was so delicious, and easy to make. I didn’t get try the lamb chops since I gave up meat for lent, but everyone raved about them…

Guinness glazed lamb chops and Irish cheddar cauliflower gratin

Last but NEVER least: dessert. Guinness and chocolate are basically a match made in heaven. But of course, I don’t eat chocolate 😦 Guinness creme brûlée and Guinness floats came to mind, but I settled on an Irish bread pudding with Irish Whiskey Caramel sauce since I had some left over bread from the Irish onion soup. Even though I worship caramel, I’ve always had a hard time making it at home… this recipe worked really well for me though:

Irish Bread Pudding with Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

Left over loaf of bread from Irish Onion Soup, cut into large cubes

Half a cup Irish Whiskey

1 1/2 cup whole milk (left over from the gratin, low fat works too)

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 12 oz can of evaporated milk (you can sub cream too for this one)

2 eggs

2 tsp cinnamon sugar

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup Irish whiskey

3 tbsp non-salted butter (use Kerrygold to make it extra Irish!)

Irish bread pudding with irish Whiskey Caramel

Preheat your oven at 350 degrees (F). Start by toasting your bread cubes in the oven for a few minutes. Then, place them in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the whiskey all over the bread to soften it. In a bowl, mix the milk, evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla extract and egg. Pour over the bread cube – whiskey mixture until well combined. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes (you want to make sure the pudding is set but not overcooked.) While the bread pudding is cooking, prepare the caramel sauce by melting the 1 cup of sugar in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn, but don’t stir it until it starts to melt. Once it does, you’ll want to start stirring with a fork until all the sugar is melted into a deep golden caramel. Remove from the heat and add 3 tbsp of butter, 1/3 cup of whiskey and a pinch of salt. The caramel will go crazy and harden very fast. There’ll be steam too… that’s normal. Return to the heat and keep stirring until it turns into a beautiful brown caramel. Once the pudding is ready to be served, pour the chilled caramel sauce on it (or individually in plates.)

I had a lot of fun pulling recipes together for this menu! What did you make for Saint Patrick’s Day?

New March Flavours at Olivia Macaron

March flavours at Olivia Macaron

Picture courtesy of Olivia Macaron via Instragram

 

Peak bloom for the Cherry Blossom has been announced for April 8-12, 2014 and it seems SO SO far away. Luckily, some amazing spring flavours are popping up at Olivia Macaron to help us wait until Spring. There’s a Cherry Blossom flavour, of course. Everything turns cherry blossom in DC this time of year, as well as a Lady Grey, Earl Grey flavoured macaron that sounds really good to me (love me some bergamot.) And then there’s two boozy flavours: Irish Cream for Saint Patrick’s Day, and Mimosa.

Macaron Christmas Tree at the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte

I’ve been a fan of the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, NC since they unveiled their Bar Macarons last June, just in time for the Democratic National Convention. I, sadly, was not staying at the Ritz-Carlton during the DNC. Instead, I stayed at the Drake Hotel and then at another rather sketchy hotel just outside of the city. But I spent a lot of time at the Ritz-Carlton because it was right downtown (well, uptown… ) where all the convention activity was and I wanted to spend as little time as possible at my sketchy hotel. Also, the Ritz-Carlton has a fabulous bar, a Bar Cocoa AND a BLT Steak. And yes, macarons!

Well, the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte officially won Christmas in my books with their fabulous Macaron Holiday Tree.

macaron christmas tree, holiday rtee ritz carlton charlotte, macarons, christmas macarons

Macaron Holiday Tree at the Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte . Picture courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton

The whimsical 8-foot tree is made of 8,000 white, green and red macarons and took 58 hours to assemble. It will be on display in the hotel lobby through December 29th and complements a colorful showcase of seasonal confections, sweets and pastries offered at Bar Cocoa dessert boutique, as well as an upcoming series of Holiday Afternoon Teas, offered by the hotel throughout December. I love it!! No pressure, Ritz-Carlton, Washington DC, but what’s in your lobby this holiday season? lol

Order a Pre-made Pie from Whisked! this Thanksgiving

pumpkin pie, whisked!, pies from whisked!, homemade pumpkin pie

While I love baking, and I love baking pie, I’ve got a pretty ambitious Thanksgiving menu planned so I love the idea of not having to worry about dessert. Whisked!, a DC-based bakery that was recently named the Best DC-Bakery by express readers, is offering homemade pie for Thanksgiving, that you don’t actually have to make yourself 😉

You can pre-order from a variety of seasonal pies (apple pie, chocolate bourbon pecan pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, pumpkin chocolate swirl or salted caramel apple pie) and just pick them up Monday or Tuesday at different locations like Pleasant Pops, Weygandt Wines, Mr. Yogato, Qualia Coffee or Miss Pixie’s. You can also visit the lovely Jenna and her associates at the last farmers’ markets of the season or at District Flea. She will be selling pies at the 14th and U farmers’ market on Saturday and Bloomingdale on Sunday.

High Holiday macaroons Macarons

It’s the High Holy Days and patissier François Payard introduced a Rosh Hashanah macarons collection for the occasion. Macaroons are typically associated with another Jewish holidays, Passover, but these are proper French macarons that play on traditional Rosh Hashanah foods: apple, honey and raisins.

Francois Payard, macaron, high holidays

An assortment of green apple and honey macarons, and raisin pecan macarons.
Picture from Francois Payard

A common greeting on Rosh Hashanah is Shana tovah u’metukah. That’s Hebrew for “a good and SWEET new year.” I think it’s important to take it seriously. And start the new year with many many sweet macarons!

François Payard’s Rosh Hashanah macarons collection (with an assortment of green apple and honey macarons and raisin pecan macarons) is available at his Manhattan patisseries for $29 for a 12-piece box. While you’re there, pick up an apple honey cake too 😉

Charity in Chocolate: An Event Too Sweet To Miss

Every fall, when Le Salon du Chocolat takes over the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Center, I cannot help but marvel at the intricacies of chocolate couture during the event’s signature chocolate fashion show. When you see the models strutting their stuff down the runway it’s hard to believe their dresses and outfits are not haute couture but haute chocolate…

chocolate fashion, salon du chocolat, charity in chcocolate

Sonia Jeito et concept chocolate http://www.sebastiengras.com — at Lille Grand Palais.

Last week, I got a sneak peek at what it takes to design and create a unique fashion statement made out of chocolate and sugar during a preview event for the upcoming Charity in Chocolate event, which will be held September 6th at the Mandarin Oriental. The fundraiser is the Heart of America Foundation‘s signature event and one of its highlight (other than knowing that you’re raising funds to help kids have access to books) is D.C.’s only chocolate fashion show. At the preview event, held at Boxwood’s Tasting Room in Chevy Chase, pastry sous-chef Shaun McCarty of the Reagan Building and pastry chef instructor Carlo Figarella of the Art Institute of Washington explained some of the challenges involved in creating chocolate fashion pieces. As expected, temperatures are a huge issue, and  I must say that I  have a newfound respect for the chefs but also for the models who volunteer to walk down the runway covered in stiff (and heavy) cocoa couture! 

Chefs

Chefs McCarty and Figarella at the preview event at the Tasting Room

Since the event raises funds to provides books to children who have little or nothing to read at home, the fashion show typically has a literary theme. I love the Madhatter inspired dress that Chef Figarella created last year for the event (picture below) and can’t wait to see what the chefs come up with this year! 

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Charity in Chocolate 2012

In addition to the sweet soirée’s signature fashion show, Charity in Chocolate features some 50 local chefs offering sweet & savory tastings. There’s still time to buy your tickets ahead of the Friday, September 6th event and you can even use the code CICInsider for a slight discount. Remember it all goes towards a great cause…

5 French Menus to Check Out During DC Restaurant Week

August in the District is a little bit like Paris this time of year: easier parking, less traffic, fewer locals, and more tourists. The restaurants don’t close like they do in Paris though… instead many of them here are even reducing their pricing and offering special three course menus. That’s right… it’s Restaurant Week time! From August 19 to August 25 (and sometimes a week or two after that) some 240 dining establishments are trying to entice us to eat in by offering 3-course lunches for $20.13 and 3-course dinners for $35.13. And if you can’t make it to Paris again this summer (thanks a lot expansive airline fares!) may I suggest a few local alternatives that will transport you to France, at least for the time that you enjoy your prix-fixe menu?

cafe du parc, french restaurants in dc

The terrace at Cafe du Parc

Café du Parc ~ Pennsylvania Avenue is as close to the Champs Elysés as we get in DC (minus the Abercombie & Fitch, Disney Store, H&M etc…) and after a couple glasses of rosé at the terrace at Café du Parc you might even think you’re there. Maybe. But the food is definitely better than almost anything you’ll find on Paris’ famed avenue. Especially for $35.13 😉 Vegetarians have some good options like the pickled watermelon and brie salad or the zucchini pasta, while meat lovers might be tempted by the pork belly and the steak tartare… Either way, the menu seems pretty interesting for Restaurant Week (dinner only).

Malmaison ~ I like to use Restaurant Week as an excuse to visit places I haven’t been to before and since Malmaison has only been open for lunch and dinner for a short period of time, I’m actually really excited at the idea of checking it out, especially since I used to love Chef Gerard Pangaud’s Chez Gerard. The Popals’ latest Georgetown hot-spot is offering a dinner-only restaurant week menu that’s pretty basic, offering a choice of just 2 items per course. Basic doesn’t mean it’s bad though… For appetizers: goat quenelle, which you don’t see often on DC menus, or cucumber soup, followed by salmon with an eggplant compote or braised lamb shank. For dessert, surprisingly, no crepes. Instead a sticky pudding with salted caramel sauce or a raspberry chocolate tarte… all great reasons to go try out Malmaison non?

Mintwood Place ~ Technically Mintwood Place is an “American” restaurant but executive Chef Cedric Maupillier is French. The dorade with braised fennel or grilled mackerel with puy lentils are clearly tell-tell signs 😉 Also, the warm peach croustade with a nougat ice cream sounds just amazing. Bonus, the restaurant week menu at Mintwood Place (dinner only) is available through September 1st.

Mintwood place

The Bar at Mintowood Place in Adams Morgan

Poste Modern Brasserie ~ Yes, also not quite French, but Chef Dennis Marron’s extensive menu is French-inspired and during restaurant week diners can chose between boeuf bourguignon and pot au feu as their entrées. That sounds pretty French – and pretty good to me. Also, it sounds pretty hearty for August 😉

Bistro Bis ~ Based on the extensive restaurant week menu, offered both for lunch and dinner, and on past experiences dining there I say rush over to opentable and make a reservation NOW. The only downside is you have to add a few dollars for some of the menu items like the sea scallops provençales (dinner only + $6), the steak frites (dinner only + $8) or the Tuna Salade Niçoise (lunch only + $4.5). But at least you have many great options to chose from. I have a weakness for crème brûlées so I really want to try Bistro Bis’ cherry-vanilla rendition too…

Let me know if you try any of these during restaurant week… I’d love to hear what you thought!