Washington, D.C. To-Do List for Thanksgiving Weekend

Guess who’s stuck in Washington, D.C. for Thanksgiving?¬†

Not Taylor Swift, me ūüėČ If you’re raising your hand too, I’ve got a few ideas of things you can do to still have a fabulous weekend in the city.

VOLUNTEER

So you have no family here or you’re stuck having to work on Friday… guess what, there are people who have it worse than you. So why not give back and help those less fortunate.¬†The D.C. Jewish Community Center hosts a number of “everything but the turkey” volunteer events¬†between Sunday November 19th and Tuesday November 21st (including one that is family friendly.) All of the shifts to assist with thanksgiving food preparation the week of Thanksgiving are already full at Food & Friends but you can still buy one of the Thanksgiving Pies they are selling to benefit their¬†Slice of Life initiative (that one’s a win-win for everyone involved!).¬†The Holiday Helpings opportunities at¬†Bread for the City are also mostly all filled up (we’re obviously a city that loves to volunteer!)¬†but you can still find some openings by looking through their volunteer opportunity calendar here. You can also participate in one of the region’s many Turkey Trots like the one benefiting SOME at Freedom Plaza¬†on¬†Thursday, November 23, 2017.

SOME is also accepting Thanksgiving donation baskets at 71 O Street on Friday, November 17 (8AM-4PM), Saturday November 18 (10AM-1PM) and Monday November 20 (8AM-4PM). You can learn more about this opportunity and what they need <here>. 

SEE A SHOW/PLAY/CONCERT/GAME

There’s always something happening at the newly re-branded Capitol One Arena in Chinatown. During Thanksgiving week, we’re looking at Lady gaga on Sunday, November 19th, hockey games on Saturday (Capitals vs Minnesota), Monday (vs. Calgary), Wednesday (vs. Ottawa) and Friday (vs. Tampa Bay) or basketball (Wizards vs. Portland on Saturday November 25.¬†Other concerts include St. Vincent,¬†performing at D.C.’s newest venue The Anthem on¬†November 27 or Diplo at Echostage November 25th. On the more classical side, the National Symphony Orchestra will perform the score from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets while audiences relive the magic of the film on giant screens (November 24-25 and 26.)

Picture courtesy of the Kennedy Center

And of course, the Nutcracker starts at the Kennedy Center too… because Christmas. That means yep, A Christmas Carol is back at Ford’s Theater too.¬†Less Christmas-y, you can catch performances of Twelfth Night by the Shakespeare Theater Company at Sidney Harman Hall (November 14-December 20th, tickets here), Nina Simone: Four Women at Arena Stage (November 10-December 24, tickets here) or¬†The Second City Presents ‚ÄėNothing to Lose (But Our Chains)’¬†(November 11 ‚Äď December 31) at Woolly Mammoth Theater.¬†¬†

CHECK OUT AN EXHIBIT OR A NEW MUSEUM

The University of Iowa Museum of Art was kind enough to loan us Jackson Pollock‚Äôs ‘Mural’, the artist’s largest work¬†which will be on display at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building starting November 19th. While you’re there, you can still catch the Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting exhibit which opened on the West Building a few weeks ago.¬† And since the Freer Gallery of Art just reopened after nearly two years of renovations, why not check out its¬†Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt exhibit (Miaou! open through January 15, 2018 at the Sackler Galleries), Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia (open through November 2020) or instagram your way through¬†Subodh Gupta: ‘Terminal a¬†new large-scale installation made from towers of brass containers that are connected by thread.

Image courtesy of the Hauser & Wirth Gallery

You can also catch the last few days of Kingdom of Colors at Artechouse. The¬†¬†immersive visual experience, designed by French filmmaker¬†Thomas Blanchard¬†and artist¬†Oilhack (with a soundtrack by Lyon-based composer Leonardo Villiger), closes November 26th. And there will be 5 augmented reality cocktails at this one! Finally, if that’s your thing, you can also visit D.C.’s newest museum, the Museum of the Bible, which will open November 17 (tickets are free.)

START CELEBRATING THE HOLIDAY SEASON

It might be Thanksgiving weekend, but as soon I’ve you’ve digested that Turkey the city is all about the holidays. Thanksgiving weekend is really Christmas season’s first weekend and you can get into the holiday spirits at one of those events:

  • Season‚Äôs Greenings, the United States Botanical Garden annual holiday show, opens Friday, November 23 (and runs through January 1, 2018.) Tickets are free but you might want to wait until a little later in December when the crowds die down a little. There will be a number of special evenings as well throughout the month with live music… and less children! You can read my recap of the 2015 edition right here.

  • Get a head start on buying those Christmas presents at the Downtown Holiday Market, whose tents will start appearing¬†by the National Portrait Gallery as early as Saturday November 24.¬†¬†
  • If the weather is nice, you can head to the National Zoo for ZooLights, a fun display of LED Christmas lights. (Free admission; 5-9 PM daily; November 24 ‚Äď January 1, 2018)
  • CityCenterDC will light its impressive 75 feet tall holiday tree on Saturday, November 25 (6 PM) Also making an appearance, the 25-foot reindeer (I love those!)¬†¬†
  • Donald Trump and his family will also be lighting the National Christmas Tree that Saturday. You had to enter a lottery¬†to go to the actual ceremony but you can also just go check it out on Sunday instead. In addition to the National Christmas Tree, each state and US Territory has a smaller tree on display in President’s Park.¬†

 

Is Ladur√©e Finally Coming to Washington, DC?

Laduree storefrontDo you know how long I’ve been waiting to write a post like this? Well, I’ve lived in DC for about 12 years and been blogging for 6… so that answers that question ūüėČ

I had actually had thought I’d be writing a post like this announcing that Maison Kayser had finally nailed down some retail space in the District but it looks like Ladur√©e beat them to the punch (please be true, please be true). And I’m not going to complain about that (though I still would LOVE for¬†Maison Kayser to open in the District pretty please!!!) {update: that’s happening too soon! Hurray!!}

Laduree at the Louvre Museum

Laduree at the Louvre Museum

Laduree on the Upper East Side, in New York

Laduree on the Upper East Side, in New York

News that one of Ladur√©e‘s signature pastel green coloured storefront would be opening in Georgetown appropriately broke in the Georgetown Metropolitan. ¬† I had really hoped that if Kayser or¬†Ladur√©e were to open in the District they would settle in City Center amongst their fancy French neighbour Hermes, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Caudalie. Obviously Georgetown is a really great fit as well and we’ll have to wait until opening to see whether the lines for macarons at¬†3060 M St. will rival those of Georgetown cupcakes a few blocks away…¬†

Laduree Macarons

If the famous Parisian macarons shop does open in Washington, it will only be¬†Ladur√©e¬†¬†fourth US location, after two stores in New York and one in Miami. {update: there’s one in Los Angeles now as well.}¬†Ladur√©e¬†has been¬†owned by the Groupe Holder since 1993. Groupe Holder, of course, also owns¬†Paul Bakeries.¬†Paul Bakeries‘ US expansion begun right here in Washington D.C., where it currently operates 7 bakeries (with an 8th one slated to open soon at 13th and K NW). Will the macarons be baked in France and flown over frozen or will they be baked in house? Will it be macarons only like the UES storefront or more of a salon de the like in SoHo? So many questions!! But this is very exciting news regardless of the answers ūüėČ

Cat-Ladying at Crumbs & Whiskers

This isn’t my first cat caf√© post – cue in my previous posts on New York’s Meow Parlour and Paris’¬†Caf√© des Chats. It’s not even my first post about Crumbs and Whiskers¬†–¬†see post on the launch of its kickstarter campaign.¬†But it is my first post on DC’s¬†eagerly anticipated cat caf√© since it opened. And it’s my first post since actually going there!! My friend¬†Cecile¬†who writes The Worldly Bites has¬†Gentlemeow Club member status so we snagged 2 weeknight¬†spots during opening month and went to go play with the kittiens last night. Let me take you through our experience at¬†Crumbs and Whiskers

Crumbs and Whiskers House Rules

 

Cat caf√© is actually a bit of a misnomer when it comes to¬†Crumbs and Whiskers. Yes, there’s cats. Plenty of them actually. But it’s not really a caf√© at all. It’s more of¬†a space to hang out with cats. The 2-story Georgetown house on O Street is actually quite narrow. The foyer, despite the best effort of the resident cat-greeter and of the caf√©’s bubbly owner Kanchan Singh, is not really the most welcoming area. Upon checking in for your appointed time slot, you’ll be asked to sign a waiver if you haven’t already done so online and shown a quick menu of drink items, like coffee, that can be ordered and delivered from the place across the street. Unlike at¬†Meow Parlour, you’re not required to disinfect your hands or take off your shoes, which is good because I’m not sure where you’d be able to store them at¬†Crumbs and Whiskers. I’ll be curious to see how they handle coats this winter… After glancing at the¬†house rules that are stated on the entrance wall, cat-lovers can make their way through the first floor or¬†up the stairs to find a spot to settle at. Which is easier said than done.¬†By the time Cecile and I arrived, at 6PM on the dot, and checked it, all the seats at the caf√© were occupied by either a sleeping cat or a lady desperately waiting for a¬†cat, any cat, to wake up.¬†

Crumbs & Whiskers

 

Quite frankly,¬†Crumbs and Whiskers¬†felt crowded. The cats looked peaceful and relaxed. Most were sleeping, which is what cats do, and that seemed amazing given how and busy everyone was around them. The minute a cat would wake up or show any willingness to play it would be surrounded by 5 girls all trying to get its attention. At¬†Meow Parlour, in New York, my friend Caitlin and I sat and chatted peacefully while sipping the cups of coffee we had brought in from the Parlour’s coffee and macaron shop around the corner. A handful of other people were doing the same, playing with the occasional awake kitty that would deign pay attention to them for a few minutes before hopping off to a higher spot. Same in Paris’¬†Caf√© des Chats, which actually is more of a tea-house than a caf√©¬†and serves a full menu of food items since, you know, the French aren’t as uptight about food regulations ūüėČ ¬†At both, patrons seemed to be enjoying each other’s company, in a nice place that¬†just happened to have a lot of cats. At¬†Crumbs and Whiskers it felt more like people were only there to see (and play with) cats.¬†

Crumbs & Whiskers

All in all, I’m glad I checked out¬†Crumbs and Whiskers but I probably won’t be back until the hype dies down a little. And when I do go back, I’ll pick a time slot that will be less busy, like the middle of the day on a Tuesday for example. But I’ll definitely encourage you to visit if you’re looking to adopt a cat (or more), though, again, not on evenings or weekends. All of the resident-kitties at¬†Crumbs and Whiskers¬†are available for adoptions through the Washington Humane Society and 9 of them have already moved on to forever home, which is really great given that the¬†caf√© has only been open for a month. As for me, if I want to get ignored by a black cat, I might save $10 and stay at home for now ūüėȬ†

Crumbs & Whiskers

Gaia Mural & Art Intervention at the W Hotel

We had a blast Friday night celebrating the unveiling of a new indoor mural by street artist Gaia at Pinea, the new(ish) restaurant that¬†replaced J&G Steakhouse at the luxury hotel W Washington D.C. To go along Chef Barry Koslow’s southern Mediterranean menu,¬†the mural was inspired by a¬†sculpture of Cesar Augustus and also features birds, a leitmotiv in Gaia’s¬†work.

parts of the gaia muralPinea DC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street Artist Gaia discusses his art intervention and mural for Pinea at the W hotel in DC

Street Artist Gaia discusses his art intervention and mural for Pinea at the W hotel in DC

 

I personally love the mural and thinks it not only livens up Pinea’s dining room but also really works with what I expect a restaurant at a W Hotel to look like. Wondering where you may have seen Gaia’s works before? The 27 years old Baltimore-based street artist has a couple of murals throughout the city. He was one of 3 street artists featured in Forbes Magazine recently as one of 30 under 30 in the Arts and Style category (the other two were¬†Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and Portugal-based Vhils.)

Rooster Mural at Smith Commons on H Street, Washington DC, 2012. Picture courtesy of Gaia.

Rooster Mural at Smith Commons on H St, Washington DC, 2012. Picture courtesy of Gaia.

Three Stages of 1817 Benning Rd, Washington DC, 2013. Image courtesy of Gaia.

Three Stages of 1817 Benning Rd, Washington DC, 2013. Image courtesy of Gaia.

Fishing, 8th St SE, Washington DC, 2013. Image courtesy of Gaia.

Overfishing, 8th St SE, Washington DC, 2013. Image courtesy of Gaia.

If you haven’t had a chance to try Pinea, the new restaurant at the W Hotel, you now have a great excuse to! Or you can just swing by the dining on your way to Root Cellar, the hotel’s new whiskey bar which is directly underneath the dining room.

G’Eclair to Bring Trendy French Pastry to Adams Morgan

In 2009, I met my mom, aunt, grandmother and cousins in Djerba, Tunisia for a relaxing Mediterranean family vacation (you can read more about that trip here). I had to leave before everyone else because well, I’m the only one who lives in a country that doesn’t have 6-weeks of paid vacation days a year (grrr USA!) but did meet up with my dad in Paris for a quick 24 hours before flying back to D.C. My dad and I both have a mad sweet tooth and truly appreciate fine desserts, so these 24 hours turned into quite the p√Ętisseries marathon. And it was good timing: √Čclair Week was in full swing at Fauchon, leading me to rediscover a forgotten¬†childhood favourite.

eclair, fauchon

Fast forward to today. Saying that √©clairs are the new macarons is about as over-said¬†as saying that macarons are the new cupcakes. And yet, that’s pretty much exactly what I just said ūüėČ √Čclairs are quite trendy right now, and they’ve never looked or tasted better! Some √©clairs truly look like tiny pieces of art (see the stunning √©clair Joconde below.)

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Fauchon's Mona Lisa éclair

One of the chef p√Ętissier to credit for the √©clair’s relaunch from simple pastry¬†a high-end dessert is Christophe Adam, who spent 15 years at Fauchon. Adam, who now has his own shop(s) called l’√Čclair de G√©nie, and Guillaume Simonnet, of L‚ÄôAtelier de l‚Äô√Čclair, have Parisians lined up outside their stores to try their latest creations and flavours… They’re looking to spread the √©clair gospel to the United States, with Adam slated to open a shop in SoHo¬†this summer this year. ¬†There’s already quite a few spot to get decent √©clairs in New York: Kayser‘s are really good as are the ones at Michel Richard’s Pomme Palais, Daniel Boulud’s √Čpicerie Boulud, Dominique Ansel Bakery and La Maison du Chocolat. Pastry chef Jennifer Yee also offers a selection of √©clairs at Lafayette¬†Grand Caf√© and Bakery¬†(try it for brunch! Their bread comes straight from Poil√Ęne!!). In Washington, well,¬†it’s a bit more difficult to find good √©clairs right now. Like a lot more difficult. So I have high hopes for G’Eclair (pronounced Gee-Clair not JAY-Clair), an √©clair boutique that popped up on valentine’s day and will open soon inside frozen yogurt shop Spoon in Adams Morgan. The team behind¬†G’Eclair is also behind Donburi, a Japanese restaurant focused on rice-bowls. Its owner James Jang and his business partner Grace Owens-Stively are getting into the √©clair business and eventually plan to open their own small brick-and-mortar √©clair shop.

G'Eclair in Washington, DC
GEclair

Over the weekend, Grace and James handed¬†out free √©clair samples. I braved the snow Saturday to try them¬†out and wasn’t disappointed by the green-tea white chocolate mini-√©clair and the miso-caramel one. There’s still a little bit of work to be done on the presentation I think. The pastries need to be finer and longer to look more refined, and the designs have room for more artistry too. But the flavours were spot on so I’m definitely hopeful and¬†think I might have more reasons to visit Adam Morgan in the near future…

Les Merveilleux de Fred Opens in New York’s West Village

I spent the past week in New York City for a work event, and just had to find some time to visit the newly opened bakery Aux Merveilleux de Fred. HAD TO.

Aux Merveilleux de Fred is now open in the West Village

The Manhattan version of Fr√©d√©ric Vaucamps’ meringue-shop¬†looks like his many Parisian outposts, with a stunning chandelier, rows of¬†merveilleux in display cases and an open kitchen that allows passers-by on 8th avenue to see how the pastries are assembled by hand. And the pastries? Well, they’re just as marvelous on this side of the Atlantic ūüėČ

Aux merveilleux de Fred New York

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If you’re not familiar with the merveilleux pastry, you’re not alone.¬†This¬†traditional northern France sweet¬†had fallen out of fashion until the late 90’s, when Fred decided to make it the star of Aux Merveilleux de Fred, his Lille pastry shop. It’s a marvelously airy¬†combination of soft and not-so-soft meringues, held together with flavoured whipped cream and rolled in pieces of nuts, coconut flakes, or chocolate shavings. It looks a bit like a snowball and, for many, bitting into one evokes delicious memories of childhood. In New York, they are sold individually in mini or regular or large size and declined in 6 different flavours with extremely French names you might find hard to pronounce: le Merveilleux (chocolate), l’Incroyable (speculos and white chocolate), l’Impensable (coffee), l’Excentrique (cherry), le Magnifique (praline, almond, hazelnuts – my personal favourite) and le Sans-Culotte (caramel). The shop also sells cramiques, which are brioche-y breads.

A box of 10 merveilleux will set you back $25

But let’s get back to how fred ended up in New York. Following on fellow Lillois Meert’s footstep, Fred brought his marvelous p√Ętisseries to the French capital, a rare feat in itself. As Olivier Magny, the best-selling author of “Stuff Parisians Like,” note: “it’s a rare thing for Parisians to adopt a provincials’ favorite.” ¬†And yet, that’s just what Fred achieved. Parisians can’t get enough merveilleux, at one of the six p√Ętisseries that are scattered around the city. His newest Parisian shop is actually around the corner from where I went to middle school. If you’re in Paris, you should go and check out the houses across the street at 11 and 13 rue Fran√ßois Miron. They’re some of the oldest in the city! Swing by Izrael next door too, it’s a tiny but¬†fabulous spice shop. But I digress. Back to¬†Fr√©d√©ric and his merveilleux….The p√Ętissier is now out to conquer the world… starting with outposts in Brussels, London, and now New York. I can only hope Washington will be next! Spoiler alert: it’s not. Geneva and Shanghai will get sweet merveilleux before I do. So I like knowing that I can get my merveilleux fix in the West Village. And I should note that¬†Aux Merveilleux de Fred¬†is not the first New York bakery to sell merveilleux. Belgian expat Anne Sophie Diotallevi opened O¬†Merveilleux in the Upper East Side last year, just a few blocks away from¬†Ladur√©e¬†and the French bookstore Albertine.¬†Stay tuned for posts on both O¬†Merveilleux¬†and Albertine. Because obviously, I had to check these out too. HAD TO.

Aux Merveilleux de Fred¬†is located at 37 eighth avenue (at the corner of Jane street). It’s open every day from 8AM to 7.30PM. Click here to view the addresses of the Paris shops.

Made-in-DC: Vodka & Whiskey at One Eight Distilling

IMG_3092One Eight Distilling is the second distillery to open in Washington, D.C. since prohibition. It happened to¬†open on my birthday, so I thought a little local vodka and whiskey would make for a fun celebration. I wasn’t the only one who had the brilliant idea to check out the distillery that day, and the 2,000 square foot tasting room in NorthEast’s Ivy City neighbourhood was packed!

For now there are only two spirits that can be sampled: the¬†rye-based District Made Vodka and the Rock Creek White Whiskey. We tried both in small One Eight Distilling branded shot glasses while waiting for our tour of the adjoining 7,500 square foot production space to start. Like Green Hat Distillery,¬†One Eight Distilling¬†will produce gin, but the Ivy City Gin won’t be ready¬†for a few more weeks. Eventually, brown liquors (like an aged Bourbon) will also be added to the roster.

IMG_3061

Our¬†tour was led by Alex Laufer, one of the co-founder of One Eight Distilling and its head distiller. He repeatedly described his spirits as “‚Äúgrain to bottle,” pointing out that the grains and malted rye used in the distilling process are all locally sourced. He also explained the legal and local nod behind the distillery’s name: one eight refers to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution which provided for the establishment of the district as¬†the United States’ capital, among other things. He also elaborated on the production process, talked about the quality of DC water and plans for future spirits. Altogether, the tour lasted perhaps 15 minutes.¬†Alexander (Sandy) Wood, the other co-founder and CEO of One Eight Distilling and Jared Earley, the marketing and events manager for the brand, were also at hand giving tours that day.

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You can tour One Eight Distilling (located at 1135 Okie Street, NE) every Saturday between 1 and 4PM. A different food truck will be parked outside the distillery every week as well, starting with Red Hook Lobster Pound on the day that I visited. If you’re really ambitious and haven’t been to Green Hat yet, it’s about a mile away so you might be able to hit both in one afternoon… I’ll definitely be back once they release their gin!

Dolci Gelati Cafe Now Spreading Happiness in Shaw

Unless you live in Takoma PGelato at Dolci Gelati Cafe in Shawark and already have easy access to¬†chef Gianluigi Dellaccio’s sweet frozen creations, you’re probably like me and pretty stoked that Dolci Gelati Cafe just opened in Shaw. Equally exciting, chef Cedric Maupillier of Mintwood Place is slated to open his new restaurant, Convivial, next door…

Dolci Gelati is a labour of love for Gianluigi and Anastasia Dellaccio and I never tire of hearing the story of their business’ beginnings, which had Gianluigi drumming up business by going from restaurant to restaurant with a cooler of gelato strapped to the back of his vespa. Today, Dolci Gelati is a larger operation, with a¬†production facility in Northeast Washington,¬†a¬†food truck and two retail locations. The newest one in Shaw is larger than the original Takoma Park location. The 1,200 square foot space has its own kitchen and gelato machines, as well as¬†Dolci Gelati’s signature pistachio¬†green on its walls and two luxurious¬†chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.

I wanna swing, from the chandelier... from the chandeli-eeeeeer

The focus of the shop is gelato, of course, but that’s not all you’ll find. Immediately upon entering, you’ll notice the gelato counter and chalkboard menus of¬†coppe gelato, or Sundae. I instantly fell in love with the pumpkin seed gelato and I wish we could have met sooner. We will have to rekindle our relationship comes next fall ūüėČ All gelato can be scooped individually or served in affogatos (hot or cold), gelato panini, shakes and even cookie sandwich. Towards the middle of the cafe¬†is one of Dolci Gelati Cafe’s nolvety: a custom gelato pops counter, which allows you to dip a gelato popsicle into a variety of melted chocolates and sprinkle¬†them with¬†a variety of sweet toppings. Finally, there’s a beverage, sandwich and pastry counter. This winter, try Dolci Gelati’s signature Dolci Baci hazelnut hot cocoa paired with fresh house made whipped cream or homemade marshmallows. There’s also an assortment of pastries from the traditional Italian cannoli and tiramisu to croissants and tarts. Three sandwiches (ham & cheese, pesto caprese panini and prosciutto mozzarella panini) provide¬†a savoury respite from all the sweetness around.

 

Dolci gelati custom popsicle bar

Dolci gelati owners Gianluigi and Anastasia  Dellaccio

 

Dolci Gelati Cafe opens in Shaw at 1420 8th street, NW. Check out my Tastemade video to learn more about the new space and its offerings.

4 Delicious Reasons to Visit Mosaic District

Being car-less, and quite frankly, living in the city as well, I¬†don’t get out to the Mosaic District very often. And that’s too bad since Merrifield’s upscale shopping and dining complex has a lot to offer, from exciting restaurant concepts to the¬†fabulous Angelika movie theater and one of the cleanest Target you’ll ever visit. So when the PR folks with Edens¬†invited me to a fun, progressive dinner-type event I jumped at the opportunity to try out 4 new restaurants and hopped on¬†the silver line. A quick free shuttle ride from Dunn Loring later, I met up with other local bloggers over crab nachos and margaritas at our first stop: Cyclone Anaya’s. The Texas transplant just celebrated its 2-years anniversary¬†at the Mosaic District, making it the “oldest” restaurant we would visit¬†during the Mosaic¬†Dish progressive dinner. Over lobster tacos and agave julep margaritas, I got to hear the story of the restaurant (it involves a Mexican wrestler!) and meet some of the other bloggers present, which is always one of the highlights of these sorts of events, before heading out to our next stop: True Food Kitchen.

Vegetable crudites at True Food Kitche

Non alcoholic cocktails at True Food Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the bloggers I was excited to meet was Anne of Fannetastic Food, whose blog I’ve been reading on and off for a few years. ¬†Anne is¬†all about healthy food and nutrition¬†so she¬†was already familiar with the concept restaurant but I wasn’t.¬†True Food Kitchen opened back in September¬†and is based on Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet and his 2012 cookbook, True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure (we actually got to take a copy of the book home, which was pretty awesome!)¬†The¬†menu emphasizes clean eating and features a large variety of vegetarian and vegan items¬†as well as some¬†gluten-free dishes. The vegetable crudites bowl that awaited us on our table looked almost too pretty to eat, but it’s the edamame dumplings and non alcoholic antioxidant¬†cocktail that really won me over. I also loved the open floor plan¬†and the fact that¬†yoga pants are a perfectly acceptable outfit to wear to dinner ūüėČ

True Food Kitchen, Washington DC

Edamame dumplings True Food Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As good as eating a huge bowl of raw veggies and drinking mocktails was, ¬†I was thrilled that our next stop included meat. Lots of meat. B Side opened less than a month ago and is¬†the only place at the Mosaic District that feels more like a bar than a restaurant. And what a bar!¬†Greg Engert, Jeff Fail and Brent Kroll have worked together to craft a drink menu that includes an AMAZING selection of 200+ beers (do you expect otherwise from Greg?), 120 wine bottles wine list (do you expect any less from Brent?) and 10 craft cocktails (do I even need to say it? But yeah, do you expect any less from Jeff…?) ¬†Like its sister restaurants the Partisan, B Side’s menu features meat from Red Apron, conveniently located next door, including snacks like pork rinds and an amazing charcuterie platter.

Cocktails: Gypsy SoulLast but not least, we made our way to Chef RJ Cooper‚Äôs Southern-inspired concept Gypsy Soul. The¬†focal point of the restaurant is the spacious open kitchen where you can watch chef RJ Cooper and cheftender Bryan Tetorakis in action. After all the eating we had just done, a good cocktail hit all the right spots and I was grateful that chef RJ Cooper brought us all his take on an apple crumble, with sour cream ice cream, because I¬†really wanted to end this Mosaic Dish progressive dinner on a sweet note. Gypsy Soul will definitely warrant another visit soon, and while I was excited to hear that the restaurant will expand to an 80 seats rooftop patio (with its own bar) in April, I’m hopefully I’ll be back much sooner than that.

I loved that, in addition to District favourites transplanted to Virginia (like Cava, Matchbox or Dolcezza) the Mosaic District now has exciting restaurant concepts that we can’t find in the city. Cyclone Anaya’s, True Food Kitchen, B Side and Gypsy Soul are all delicious new (ish in the case of Cyclone Anaya’s)¬† reason to visit the Mosaic District and I can definitely see myself trekking out there (the metro and shuttle ride really wasn’t bad at all) ¬†to meet some of my VA-based friends. I’m sure they’d appreciate me coming on their¬†turf for a change ūüėČ

Cava Mezze Grill Now Open in Chinatown

Cava Grill ChinatownMaybe it’s because I follow Nikki Rappaport on Instagram¬†and I’ve been salivating over all the pictures she posts of her Cava Mezze Grill lunches but I’m ridiculously excited that the fast casual mediterranean restaurant chain is opening a new location in Chinatown. The¬†707 H St. NW spot¬†will be the sixth for Cava Mezze Grill and the closest to where I live. It will soon be followed by new locations in Kenlands, Montgommery Mall and Ronald Reagan National Airport (that one a little less soon.)

But let’s focus on Cava Grill Chinatown. It opened with new menu items, that will rotate seasonally, and additional partnerships with local food artisans like Whisked!,¬†Optimal Grains,¬†Gordy‚Äôs Pickle Jar, and RunningByrd Tea. Local brews like Atlas Brew Works, 3 Stars Brewing Company and DC Brau Brewery Company are available on tap, as is wine. On the non-alcoholic side, the house-made juices are also seasonal, like the sweet apple cider, the fresh cucumber mint lime or the tart blackberry sage.

Seasonal Juice Selection at Cava Grill

cava grill chinatown

Cava Grill Chinatown

The preservative-free pitas are being made from scratch and organic flour by D.C. dough baker Optimal Grains and baked fresh in Cava‚Äôs new stone-fired oven. Dessert is provided by Whisked! in the form of delicious cookies and¬†Gordy‚Äôs Pickle Jar’s contribution comes in the shape of fiery little pickled banana peppers, which (warning) and quite spicy especially when paired with Cava’s Harissa spread. For those with allergies or dietary restrictions, it’s easier than ever to figure out what you can eat. The back of Cava Grill’s menu breaks down the entire menu according to whether they’re gluten free, vegetarian, dairy free, vegan or soy free (you can view the allergens¬†menu online too).

Cava is officially¬†opened as of today (October 14th) and celebrating with its traditional Community Day. Drop by the new Chinatown location between 11AM and 2PM for complimentary lunch. A donation is encouraged though, 100% of which will go to Cava Grill’s¬†local non-profit partners, MicroGreens and City Blossoms, both of which champion healthy eating in the D.C. community.