Sweet! There’s a New Menu at The Grill Room

Chef Frank Ruta, picture courtesy of Capella DC

Chef Ruta, photo courtesy of Capella DC

Wednesday night, I headed off to the Capella Hotel in Georgetown to celebrate its new chef Frank Ruta, and the new menu he designed for its restaurant The Grill Room. I must confess, I never ate at Palena, the Cleveland Park establishment Chef Ruta headed before it closed last year. I also never attended one of his famed Bread Feast supper club dinner at Mark Furstenberg’s Bread Furst . And yet, I have an awesome memory of Chef Ruta, one that doesn’t involve his food directly. Instead, it involves a panel on which he sat at the National Archives a few years back. A panel of former White House chefs. The soft spoken Chef Ruta sat between former White House Executive Chef Pierre Chambrin and (very outspoken) former White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier, the lone American sandwiched by two French chefs, with their heavy accents, talking about what goes on in one of America’s most famous kitchen. C-SPAN has a recording of the conversation if you want to watch it, hearing the two Frenchies talk about cooking Thanksgiving meals is quite entertaining!

Like he was on the panel, Chef Ruta was also rather discreet at the party thrown in his honor, letting his food do most of the talking for him. The pumpkin and squash soup made me want to skip spring and summer and head straight into fall while the sampling of the new charcuterie plate and oysters made me long to try the whole thing, perhaps during a spring-time lunch at one of the restaurant’s tables overlooking the C&O Canal.

Charcuterie plate at The Grill Room, at the Capella DC Hotel

Photo courtesy of Capella DC

Oysters at The Grill Room at Capella DC

Photo courtesy of Capella DC

What I was really excited to try at Wednesday’s celebration were the new desserts from pastry chef Aggie Chin. If I never had dinner at Palena, I did buy macarons from their market (and I have Nevin Martell to thank for that recommendation!) They were very good. So I was excited to try her latest creations for The Grill Room and Rye Bar. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually get to try items from the new dessert menu. I guess that’s how they tease us to come back… It was alright though, we were treated to an elegant buffet of bite sized treats, the highlights of which was a perfect canelé.

Picture perfect caneles at Capella DC

There was also some stunning chocolate macarons dipped in dark cocoa, though sadly, I couldn’t eat those 😦

Stunning Chocolate macarons at Capella DC

Chef Aggie Chin credits food blogs like Clotilde Dusoulier’s Chocolate & Zucchini for inspiring her to get into the kitchen instead of the courtroom after she studied law at UVA. She’s crafted an ambitious menu for The Grill Room, one she says “reflects the bustling diverse metropolis of D.C.” Many of the dishes mix seasonal vegetables or fruits with spices. The “Root for It” for example pairs parsnip cake, ginger ice cream and a squash and brown sugar mousse. The “Just Say Ah” mixes green apple and fennel sorbet with gingered apple, golden raisins and coconut curry meringues. Again, it’s really unfortunate that none of these desserts were available to sample at the party introducing the two chefs, but I guess that just made me want to come back and try them even more, especially if some desserts are going to be available at The Rye Bar and paired with cocktails!

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Celebrate Fall with Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Macarons

Trader Joe's pumpkin macaronsIt’s pumpkin season and that means the pumpkin macarons are back in Trader Joe’s freezers, along with about a million other pumpkin flavoured items throughout the stores… (OK, apparently, just 40 according to Tech Insider.) Trader Joe’s is very committed to the pumpkinization of fall that way 😉

I’m not a huge fan of frozen macarons, though I’ve had these before and they’re not bad (for frozen macarons…) They’re ready to eat in about 30 minutes after you’ve taken them out of the freezer (though my friend Kaoru likes to eat them frozen too, almost like French mochi) so that’s an option as well.) They’re a bit on the soggy side, could definitely use a little more crunch but the pumpkin custard filling is pretty tasty. According to Trader Joe’s, they’re made with natural flavors and get their orange hue from turmeric and beet juice.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Macarons, Pumpkin Macarons, macarons, pumpkin, fall, pumpkin everything

A box of 12 Pumpkin macarons retails for $4.99, so they’re a pretty good deal for entertaining… Every year, I stock up on a few boxes that I bring out when I entertain around on Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Macaron at Malmaison

Picture courtesy of Malmaison

Picture courtesy of Malmaison

One more reason to love fall! PS: did you know that the second Monday of every month is #MacaronMonday at Malmaison? You do now 😉 Mention Macaron Monday on October 13, buy one macaron (pumpkin Pie Spiced or not) and get one free!

Macarons are $2 a piece at Malmaison and typically sell in the following flavours: Lemon, Raspberry, Mixed-Berry, Pistachio, Salted Caramel, Toasted Coconut, Chocolate Hazelnut, & Orange. I can’t wait to try this new seasonal flavour!

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 😉

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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?

 

Foodie Keepsake: USPS’ Celebrity Chefs Stamps

Just when I had almost given up on sending actual snail mail, the United State Postal Service announced the release of a pane of celebrity chefs forever stamps. The chefs honored are James Beard, Julia Child, Joyce Chen, Edna Lewis and Felipe Rojas-Lombardi.

 

Pictured below is the Beard stamp, which was the first design to be released. The Postal Service will reveal the other stamp designs through its social media outlets (follow USPS on twitter, facebook and pinterest) leading up to the first-day ceremony in Chicago, Illinois on September 26. The selvage area will have a photograph of a large plate set on a white linen tablecloth.

james beard stamps, celebrity chef stamps
I can’t wait to be stamping those on my lovely Paper Source macarons stationery 😉 Do you still send snail mail often these days? Or only for special occasions like celebrations or the holidays?

 

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!

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.

Laduree Soho to Open February 5th

 

Laduree’s anticipated Soho Salon de The finally has an opening date! What’s really exciting about the location, other the fact that it’s opening just in time for my upcoming work trip to New York City, is that it will sell more than macarons. Laduree Soho will be a retail bakery, of course, but also tea room, and full-service restaurant, overseen by chef Johann Giraud.

laduree, laduree soho, laduree salon de the, laduree new york, macarons

I can’t wait to check it out next week!

Laduree Soho opens February 5th, 2014 at 396 West Broadway.

Football Macarons (yes, you read that right)

Wanna give a French Twist to your Super Bowl party this Sunday? Probably not. But just in case you really do, I just stumbled upon this awesome template to make little American football shaped macarons on Mindy Cone’s awesome blog Creative Juice. Snickers macarons may sound wrong… but let’s be honest… they also sound really right!

Snickers Football Shaped Macarons From Mindy Cone's blog Creative Juice

Just in time for the Super Bowl: Snickers Football Shaped Macarons From Creative Juice

The whole blog is full of great party inspiration and DIY guides, but my favourite feature on Mindy’s blog is obviously Macarons Monday. I mean, these pecan macarons sound amazing and if I ever have a baby shower, I want it to look just like this one, complete with adorable pink macarons and polka dots! Until then, I think I might make these little football macarons and enjoy them all by myself while the husband is (hopefully) out watching the big game somewhere else 😉

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.

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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