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Tag Archive | "Alejandra Owens"

Get Ready For Strawberries at the Farmers Markets


"Strawberries"

Strawberries are coming and Alejandra has recipes galore. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com. 

Last year, the most awful thing happened to me. I was at the grocery store, just weeks after the local strawberry season had ended and I was lamenting the lack of those little red jewels in my life. I was sad. I missed them!

So I bought a pint of the little buggers from The Teet.

Wow, was that a mistake. They were watery, tasteless and mealy. I mean, I didn’t really even understand what mealy felt like in my mouth until that moment. What the heck!? I had been eating grocery store strawberries my whole life (with the rare exception of cartons bought on the side of the road from Mexicans, who crossed the boarder to set up mini market stands — I grew up about 40 minutes from the U.S.–Mexico border) and in that moment, I felt screwed. Had they always tasted like that? Had I elevated myself to the next level of strawberry consciousness with my farmers market shopping ways?

I’m hoping I just landed a bad batch, ’cause as much as I try to shop local and seasonal, there are just moments, there are desserts, that call for strawberries when they’re not in season in like, you know,Pennsylvania!!!

This week’s FreshFarm Markets‘ newsletter mentioned that they would have strawberries from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania this Saturday and I got tres excited. We can throw a strawberry party now, just so we’re ready.

Here are some strawberry recipes to get you started:

What’s on your market list for this weekend? Don’t forget, if you have questions about the market, just tweet me!

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Booze On, Borderstan: DC Named 9th Drunkest City


"DC"

Where do you drink? (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.

When it comes to best/worst lists, DC always seems to find a place. In 2010 we were among the fittest cities in America thanks to all you crazy running people. We were also one of the happiest cities according to a Gallop pole. Not surprisingly, we were also among the most expensive cities to live! But last week we topped another list – this time coming in as the 9th Drunkest City In The US!

So here’s the break down: according to The Daily Beast, the average DC adult consumes 15.6 alcoholic beverages a month (rounding up, that’s four drinks a week, give or take), 14.5 percent of us are binge drinkers and 5 percent of us are considered heavy drinkers.

I mean, are we really surprised? DCers have a penchant for rooftop drinking, patio drinking and dirt-cheap-happy hour drinking. We bestow our finest bartenders with a demi-god like status. We even have classic cocktail death matches! Bottom line: cheap, neat, classic, it doesn’t matter, we like our booze!

So it got me thinking, where did I drink the most in DC this year? In no particular order:

  • Fiola – I’ve lauded Jeff Faile’s manhattan for awhile now.
  • 1905 – Lyn and Joel serve up cocktails with a friendly “in your living room” kind of vibe.
  • Estadio – They serve my favorite rose in the whole city.
  • Stoney’s – A favorite spot to meet friends and have a bourbon & ginger.
  • Iron Horse Taproom – A regular after work spot, any bar with a $5 Makers Mark night is a bar I’ll like.
  • Cork – Wine flights. Enough said.

Then there were dinner parties – many, many dinner parties. So that means weekly visits to Connecticut Avenue Wine & Spirits where I pick up a bottle or two for those “just in case” moments. So Borderstanis, where do you booze… or buy your booze? It’s really not hard to imagine how one might get to four drinks a week – at minimum. Or, dear lord, is it?

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Borderstan Resolutions: We Resolve


resolutions

Borderstan Resolutions: What are yours? (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.

New Year’s resolutions, the year’s first, great conflict. To make them, not to make them. Scoff at them, secretly envy the temporary discipline of our peers. Personally, I think the nature of resolutions is best captured by Mark Twain:

“Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion.” (via The Paris Review)

So in the nature of getting into the “looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion,” we thought we’d share our resolutions for 2013, may you help keep us accountable and participate in public shaming when we fail!

Health, Our Old Friend

  • I will exercise everyday. That is my resolution. – Luis Gomez
  • I’m giving myself three months to “get right” again. Get back into good habits like cooking at home, moving more, reading, writing — things I know make me happy! – Alejandra Owens
  • Fewer happy hours (of the non-coffee kind), read the books I have bought over the last few years, write down my family’s traditional Indian recipes! - Aparna Krishnamoorthy

Home Cooking, Revived

  • I’m resolved to making home cooked meals more frequent and extraordinary. – Jonathan Riethmeier

Relationships & Creativity

  • My resolution is to send a hand-written piece of mail out to somebody different every week. – Namita Koppa
  • I made a DC-to-do-list of 10 places/things in DC I haven’t seen or done yet and would like to get to. – Laetitia Brock
  • I love mail, so writing hand-written notes is one of my resolutions too. – Ashley Lusk
  • My resolution is to start a creative writing journal and set aside time biweekly to actually sit by myself and do it! – Chelsea Rinnig

Live That Life! 

  • I have lots of little resolutions. One is as simple as getting the mail everyday. Yup, it’s time to be an adult. – Rachel Nania
  • I try not to make resolutions, but I am going to try to take more risks this year, and also would like to learn how to make fancy cocktails at home. – Katie Andriulli

So, Borderstanis, what are your New Years resolutions?

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Posted in Food & Drink, LifestyleComments (1)

New Year’s: Alejandra’s Complete Guide to Gettin’ All Liquored Up


"New"

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.

New Year’s Eve. Synonymous with champagne, kisses and that scene from When Harry Met Sally.

For the cynics among us, New Year’s Eve is just another night — a night with unreasonably high expectations for merriment and finding someone at the bar to smooch with. Yet, for the hopeful, it’s about new beginnings, good times with friends and making memories. No matter which side of the coin you fall on, we can all agree on one thing: New Year’s Eve is all about the booze.

I mean, really people, those memories aren’t just going to make themselves, now are they!?

For starters, make sure you’re all set up and ready. The Bon Appetit Cocktail Party Manual has all the golden rules for throwing a boozy party — and more. Don’t forget food, Stephanie has you covered with tons of easy recipes to make, and, in some cases, make-ahead treats that you can serve. But now, on to the reason we’re all here.

Be Safe: If you are out and about for the evening, please drink responsibly and remember, you can even get free taxi rides (see our 2012 article on SoberRide). Whatever you do, please don’t drink and drive Borderstanis!

Punch Cocktails

"New"

Punch cocktails are the original big batch party drinks. You may poo-poo these at first glance, but don’t let rings of lemon slices frozen in water fool you.

These drinks pack a… no, I won’t say it. It’s just too cheesy. I like the idea of these drinks because (1) you don’t have to fiddle with recipes to make them for a crowd, and (2) they’re a nice way to ease everyone into a festive spirit.

Boozey, but not too much, so it’s not going to get anyone hammered in the first hour. This is a marathon, not a sprint, after all.

Wine

For the oenophiles among us, having a well-stocked wine counter, one featuring sangrias or mulled options even, is good for friends and family who don’t do hard liquor. Not everyone can love bourbon as much as I do, and I can respect that.

Cocktails

There’s no reason you can’t turn your favorite cocktail for one into a pitcher for 10. Just carefully convert the recipe to suit a larger crowd and provide the appropriate cooling option — ice cubes and a shaker for a shaken/stirred cocktail — at the table.

Also, if you like, you can always print out simpler cocktail recipes and leave them on a table with all the appropriate measures, liquors, mixers, bitters and garnishes. That way everyone can make the drink to their liking and get in on the mixologist fun. (Cause don’t we all have that one friend who used to bartend in college…)

Last but not least, some resources in case you need help or more ideas:

  • The boys over at Scofflaw’s Den are local and feature awesome cocktail recipes.
  • Speakeasy Cocktails App on iTunes is pretty nifty.
  • City Eats DC runs a weekly column called Bottom’s Up featuring the city’s best cocktails.

Champagne

Oh! And how could I forget? Don’t forget the champagne! Bubbly and kisses. That’s what New Year’s Eve does! Julian Mayor, the sommelier at Bourbon Steak DC in the Four Seasons, contributed to this really lovely list of boutique champagnes. I have Julian to thank for a serious love for Pierre Peters — a champagne you should still be able to get at Cork & Fork on 14th Street. Many others on this list are easy to find as well — just give your liquor/wine store a ring and undoubtedly they’ll have an option for you.

This article was originally posted on December 27, 2011. But, it’s that time of year again, and we find that this type of advice remains true throughout the years (and especially around the holidays). So get out your glasses, put on your party hats and pour your poison of choice!

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Matchbox Opens On 14th Street


"Matchbox"

At  T Street: Matchbox opens on 14th Street NW with a crowd-pleasing menu and a beautiful rustic interior. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find Owens at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Owens also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.

Fourteenth Street’s restaurant scene continues to grow at the rate of a protein hungry teenager, and the latest addition to restaurant row is local power-house and crowd-pleaser, Matchbox.

Long known for their Chinatown and Capitol Hill locations, the pizzeria fired up their brick ovens last week for a test run with friends, family and media. I don’t think we’ll be hearing any challenges for best pizza in town from this crew, but the location, robust menu and truly beautiful space is a welcome addition to an area that’s well known for smaller restaurants or restaurants appreciated by those with “fancy” pallets and deep pockets.

The three-story building’s brick facade was preserved and the interior was built out to compliment the building’s rustic feel. Tree stump stools, exposed wood staircases and wrought iron accents can be found throughout. On the first floor, a 25 foot bar is situated along the northern wall, leading patrons to a pizza bar that overlooks Matchbox’s famous brick ovens, of which there are two. Two floating wood boxes, located on the second level, offer a more private dining experience with impressive views of the rest of the restaurant. A to-go station and large patio will both open soon as well.

The mozzi carrozzi (a lightly fried basil, tomato, mozzarella sandwich), spicy meatball pizza and roasted tomato linguini at my table were all great and just begging for a big ‘ol table of friends to dive right in.

And that’s the thing, if there’s one thing the latest Matchbox location will be good for it’s large groups, visiting family and brunches. According to the Matchbox site, brunch is slated to begin December 8 at 10am every weekend.

Stay tuned for more updates on Matchbox and its pop-tart wielding cousin, Ted’s Bulletin, which is also opening along 14th Street in the coming months. Matchbox can be found at 1901 T Street NW, on the corner of 14th and T Streets NW.

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In the Hood: Our Favorite Restaurant Patios and Rooftop Decks


"rooftop"

Some of our favorite outdoor establishments in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find Owens at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Owens also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.

With the weather seeming to cool faster than last fall, and November fast approaching, you’ve hopefully still got time to eat, drink and party outdoors in the Borderstan area. We should get some more nice days in the 70-degree range in the next few weeks and there is probably still time to enjoy the neighborhood’s outdoor restaurants, cafes and rooftop establishments.

Your Outdoor Dining and Drinking Guide

Enjoy!

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Tacos El Chilango: Mexican Food Game Changer


"Tacos El Chilango"

Tacos El Chilango, 1119 V Street NW. (Alejandra Owens)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.

Last week, Washington City Paper Food Editor Jessica Sidman, posted an interesting question on the Young & Hungry blog in reference to DC’s lackluster Mexican food scene, “But as for whether people will stop hating on D.C. tacos in general? That has yet to be seen.” She did a great write up on Tacos El Chilango, another food truck gone brick-and-mortar business — or is it?

I’ve complained multiple times about the lack of good Mexican food in this town, and clearly I’m not alone. In 2011 9.1% of DC’s population was Hispanic or Latino so it really has baffled me that the city hasn’t experienced a rise in authentic, hole-in-the-wall Latin food joints. I mean, entire neighborhoods are known for being Latino, even one of the city’s Safeways is nick-named “Sandanista Safeway“! It seems though that in Tacos El Chilango, in finding it’s brick and mortar mojo just north of U Street at 12th and V NW, is a game changer, for not just the taco scene in DC, but for Mexican food as a whole in the city.

Juan Santacruz, owner and operator of Tacos El Chilango, and I chatted about his history with tacos after I ordered. Three generations of his family had run or are currently running taquerias in the US and Mexico. With no car and nothing really driving my need to be in Virginia, I’d heard the lore around the Tacos El Chilango truck but had never actually been. Presented with a plate of three simply dressed tacos — chicken & chorizo, cheese & avocado and carne asada — and a cup of horchata (easily my favorite beverage on the face of the Earth…second only to bourbon), I said a silent little prayer and hoped for the best.

Immediately after biting into my carne asada taco I thought to myself, “This sh&t is legit!”

I could taste the hints of the asada marinade, the beef was tender and it was even chopped in a familiar fashion! I’m not kidding, when you grow up eating carne asada chopped in little evenly measured dices, it becomes a part of your culinary lexicon. It was like biting into a little piece of home. I appreciate the small, straight forward menu — six options with meat, three vegetarian and the house made aguas frescas. And the salsa “bar” was a pleasant surprise, with three options, again — roja, verde and habanero.

DC has a sizable, and growing, Latino population, no doubt about it. I’m just hoping that more entrepreneurial spirits will follow Juan’s lead, and that the city will encourage these folks to go from secret taqueria or farmers market to food cart/truck or even good ‘ol brick and mortar.

Tacos El Chilango

  • Where Am I Going: 1119 V Street NW, corner of 12th and V.
  • When Am I Going: Monday through Friday, 5 to 10 pm; Saturdays, noon to 10 pm; closed on Sundays.
  • Paycheck Pain: Tacos come cheap! $2.50 a pop, but there is a $10 minimum for credit card charges. Three tacos and an agua fresca will get you there easily.
  • Say What?: It’s a small restaurant, if you’re jonesing for peace and quiet, make it a point to go during off-peak hours and days.
  • What You’ll Be Eating: Tacos! Cilantro haters, I don’t think this will be your spot… tacos come with a healthy dose of the frilly green stuff and onions.
  • Yelp: A total rarity, the Tacos El Chilango in Arlington has a 5-star rating and more than 170 reviews.

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Time to Porc Out (Pun Intended)


From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com.

"Porc Out"

Bourbon Steak DC 3rd annual Porc Out. (Tammy Gordon)

Anything with pig in it continues to be all the rage – and I think that’s a good thing. Aside from some deeply questionable bacon productsout on the market, the ongoing popularity of pork dishes and the raising of heritage-breed hogs provides valuable lessons in community and learning about and becoming closer to our food systems. Aside from the apparent entertainment factor related to pig roasts, I think they do all the afore mentioned things and that’s why their popularity persists.

While I have a few entrepreneurial and chef friends who host pig roasts every summer, attending a pre-coordinated, booze-provided pig roast hosted by some serious professionals is probably the best way for me to appreciate a porcine beauty.

Bourbon Steak DC is hosting their 3rd annual pig roast, dubbed “Porc Out” this Sunday, August 19th.

So for $50 (food only) or $60 (food and drink) you can eat till your belly says no, but your eyes say yes for three solid hours. A giant whole roasted pig from Leaping Waters Farm, sides sides and more sides, an oyster bar hosted by War Shore Oyster Company, a full dessert bar (serving sundaes even), a variety of Port City beers, wines and non-alcoholic drinks are all on the menu. This. Is. A. Steal. And always a good time. I honestly have never heard a bad review of the event.

Grab your tickets and tweet the shit out of it (@BourbonSteakDC) and make all your friends jealous.

Where: Bourbon Steak, Four Seasons Georgetworn

When: Sunday, August 19th, 12-3pm

How Much: $50 for food, $60 for food and drink and $40 for children 12 and under

Reservations/Tickets: Call 202.944.2026, email bourbonsteak.was@fourseasons.com or visit the website at www.bourbonsteakdc.com.

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Tips for Navigating Restaurant Week


"Restaurant Week"

In Borderstan area, look for Restaurant Week participants on Connecticut, P, U, 9th, 14th and 17th Streets NW. (Luis Gomez Photos) (Luis Gomez Photos)

Editor’s note: The following story first ran on August 16, 2010. We thought you’d again enjoy Alejandra’s advice for bi-annual Restaurant Week, since it arrived again Monday. Metro DC Summer  Restaurant Week runs August 13-19. For participating restaurants in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area, see Borderstan’s Restaurant Week’s 24 choices in the Neighborhood.

Pricing? Lunch is $20.12 for a three-course, fixed-price meal and dinner is $35.12 for a three-course, fixed-price meal. Beverages, gratuity and tax are not included. You can make reservations through Open Table and City Eats DC.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Email her at alejandra@borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.

The bi-annual DC Restaurant Week is upon us again. Depending on who you talk to, it’s either the perfect week to dine out like a mad (wo)man or it’s the perfect week to cook at home. Some have even gone so far as to call it amateur week for diners. I wouldn’t go that far — but the week certainly has its pluses and minuses.

The complaints I hear most often about Restaurant Week are that service is slow, menus are limited and the plates are unimpressive. In turn, restaurant industry folks say that people have unrealistic expectations, that restaurants are slammed with numbers far beyond usual and that it’s not a true showing of what a restaurant can give you. I can appreciate both perspectives.

Tips and Favorites

No matter how you feel about Restaurant Week, there are certainly some tips to getting it right. Here are my six tips and some favorites places:

  1. Dining in DC blog. Check out Lisa Shapiro’s Dining In DC blog (she’s a local food writer) for her take on menus — and the places worth checking out. Doing your homework is the first step in making sure you’re getting the most out of the week.
  2. Places to avoid. Don’t go to restaurants that are already good deals (read: tapas places or ones that have a portion of the menu on happy hour at the bar)… or ones that you have been to before. Or if you do, manage your expectations. NEW TIP: check to see if places have a prix fix menu year round… target those that don’t for your Restaurant Week reservations.
  3. Menu offerings. Hit up restaurants that have the majority of their menu up for grabs. Nothing is worse than sitting down only to find out the already limited menu is minuscule. NEW TIP: Many places are offering bottles of wine at half price this go around — be sure to see if there is a deal on wine… or if dessert can be exchanged for wine or other beverage options.
  4. Lunch. Try lunch reservations in your work neighborhood. Some of my best Restaurant Week experiences have been during lunch, not dinner.
  5. Ask around. Talk to friends and coworkers: What restaurants do a bang up job no matter what?
  6. Watch Twitter and follow the foodies. Reservations will be dropping like flies and generous folks will be offering them up. If you’re on Twitter, watch closely! Follow some foodies and pick up a few extra options.
  7. Favorites. I put together some Restaurant Week favorites with help from my foodie friends on Twitter (find me @frijolita):  Rasika, Bibiana, 1789 and Dino top the list.

So… what are your Restaurant Week tips?

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Farmers Market Update: Snob Edition


"Dupon Circle Farmers Market"

The Dupont Farmers Market. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com.

For all my resistance of the label “foodie” and the innumerable times I have reminded friends, “I like dirty little street carts just as much as I like five star restaurants!” I realized I had become something I’d so actively avoided.

I very clearly remember the moment I realized I had become a food snob.

It was last fall, just after the Dupont Farmers Market had gone from robust and bustling to lean and limited. The first weekend I made my usual rounds from stand to stand, buying up my staples. Clear Spring Creamery, my milk vendor, was notably not present. I figured they were taking a few weekends off after the hustle and madness of the summer’s market schedule. Two weekends went by and my milk was still gone. Three. Four.

I was desperate. My coffee was desperate. So I went to Cowgirl Creamery, not far from my office, and bought a pint of whole milk. I’ve always been in love with Trickling Springs Creamery’s nostalgic glass bottle packaging. If it’s possible to romantically drink milk, this is how you do it.

The next morning I poured some milk into my coffee and my spidey senses went off like my morning alarm. Something wasn’t right. Did I make my coffee wrong? Was the milk bad? I tasted everything separately, only to conclude everything was fine. The milk tasted different though, it wasn’t what I was used to.

A month in, still using the new milk every morning, I realized what tasted different. Grass. I could taste grass. What the eff? Who tastes the terroir in milk?! Over the last couple years my sense of taste and smell have gone wild. I’d been starting to wonder if I should take wine classes or something.

And just like that I’d finally jumped the shark. I wasn’t snottily selecting wine, angrily discussing the foie gras ban in CA or waxing poetic about a farmers market/locavore diet. I was snotty about my milk. It’s already hard for me to drink grocery store milk – it’s the equivalent of Starbucks’ burnt coffee beans; no taste! But this…local/organic/blah blah milk… I’m being critical of this milk?!

A new low, or a new preference? I’m chalking this up to a case of extreme, and hyper-local brand loyalty.

Be sure to stop by Clear Springs Creamery at the Dupont Farmers Market this Sunday. Not only do they sell fabulously creamy, rich milk, they also sell probiotic yogurt drinks that are irresistible to kids and adults alike.

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