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by Borderstan.com August 3, 2012 at 10:00 am 0

From Ashley Lusk. Check out her blog, Metropoetrylis. Find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her at ashley[AT]borderstan.com.

Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com you’ll always get food news from writers who actually eat in our neighborhood. They know where to find the newest rooftop bars, the brunch with unlimited Mimosas, and the best vegetarian options in the city. That’s why we’re giving you a chance to get to know the writers who bring you the best eats Borderstan has to offer. So, grab your fork and take a seat at our table.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

"Laetitia Brock Borderstan Food Bites"

Laetitia Brock is one of Borderstan’s food writers. (Courtesy Laetitia Brock)

Laetitia Brock is a food writer for Borderstan.

What’s the best restaurant in DC? Why?

Brock: I love Brasserie Beck, it has something for everyone. If you want a bustling after work scene, you can just head to the bar for a beer or two. If you want a casual meal, sit at the front of the restaurant and order a croque monsieur or the mussels. In the mood for a chill afternoon and good food? Relax on the terrace with a refreshing glass of rose and a plateau de fruits de mer.

They have an impressive beer list and sommelier Ramon Narvaez has selected a great wine menu as well. Any restaurant that can be all these things, and be all these things successfully, will always be at the top of my list.

Describe your food writing style — what kind of story are you looking to tell?

Brock: I try to keep it light and simple (and French, just like me).

Which food writers inspire you? 

Brock: I love learning more about American food but I get very nostalgic for French pastries. I have a mad sweet tooth, and some of my favorite food bloggers write about pastries are:

Adam Wayda is an American who spends a lot of time in Paris and has an unhealthy knowledge of the Parisian pastry scene. He takes gorgeous pictures of the most beautiful sweets in the city and is almost as obsessed with Pierre Herme as I am. A lot of people day dream of quitting everything and starting a new life in Paris. Pastry chef David Lebovitz actually did it and now blogs his “sweet” life from Bastille. In addition to original recipes (like candied bacon ice cream) he also shares quirky stories about cooking in a small apartment kitchen and dealing with the French. 2012 winner of Food and Wine’s People’s Best New Pastry Chef award, Christopher Ford is also an amazing photographer and, locally, I love The Hungry Muse.

What is your version of comfort food?

Brock: Call me French if you must, but wine, baguette (so hard to find a good one in DC!), cheese and Nutella. I’m also a firm believer that bechamel makes everything better — I put bechamel in my lasagnas, croque Monsieur, crepes.

Cooking tool you can’t live without?

Brock: Cork screw. Not sure it really qualifies as a cooking tool, but I keep mine in a kitchen drawer and until I develop some mad skills with my shoe like my fellow countrymen, I can’t live without it.

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by Borderstan.com July 31, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

"State Fair"

It’s county and state fair time. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Ashley Lusk. Check out her blog, Metropoetrylis. Find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her at ashley[AT]borderstan.com.

I’m always surprised when people tell me they haven’t been to a county fair– after all, memories of candied apples and craft tables during fair season are a significant part of my childhood.

With state budgets being hit hard, state and county fairs are buckling down more than ever before. Luckily, if you’re up for a day trip, these fun ventures into fried food, pie contests and shaky rides can still be part of your childhood — or adulthood, for that matter.

DC State Fair

DC “State” Fair, September 22
Barracks Row

Just because we don’t have states’ rights doesn’t mean we don’t know how to throw a good party. This year the DC State Fair will be joining Barracks Row Day on Capitol Hill, where you’ll find the best of gardeners, cooks, bakers, photographers and artists. We’re already looking forward to the contest for best homebrew.

Virginia

Arlington County Fair, August 8-12
Thomas Jefferson Community Center, 3501 S. Second Street, Arlington, Virginia

You’ll have fun at the Arlington County Fair if you go for the pig races alone, but you can also catch performances by local artists and check out the competitive competitions (pie, anyone?).

Prince William County Fair, August 10-18
10624 Dumfries Road, Manassas, Virginia

Believe it or not, there is another reason to visit Prince William County besides Ikea, namely the largest county fair in Virginia. Check out the Demolition Derby, 4-H Livestock Shows and carnival rides. Deal: On Tuesday, August 14, purchase admission to the Fair for only $2.00!

Virginia State Fair, September 28-October 7
13111 Dawn Boulevard  Doswell, Virginia

Getting to Virginia’s State Fair will require a bit more of a drive to it’s Doswell location, but still well-within day-trip territory. Head here for the Midway – wonderfully colorful rides and games.  You can also check out livestock animals including cows, rabbits, chickens, goats, ducks and newborn calves.

Maryland

Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, August 10-18
Montgomery County Fairgrounds, 16 Chestnut Street, Gaithersburg, Maryland

If you were ever a 4-H’er, you’ll remember county fair just like this. MoCo Ag Fair has a demolition derby, monster trucks, and tractor pull. If you’re a parent, head to the KidZone for remote control car racing and carnival rides, including bumper cars. Be sure to check out the animal demonstrations and if you’re hungry, pick up something called a Fudge Puppie Waffle.

Prince George’s County Fair, September 6-9
PG County Showplace Arena, Water Street, Upper Marlboro, Maryland

Check out local performers, a NASCAR simulator and carnival rides at the Prince George’s County Fair.

Maryland State Fair, August 23- September 3
Maryland State Fairgrounds, 2200 York Road, Lutherville-Timonium, Maryland

If you happen to live with a 13-year-old girl, you should definitely make plans to visit the Maryland State Fair where The Band Perry and Victoria Justice will be performing.  If you’re 15 or older, you’ll want to go to the Maryland State Fair for the bull riding competitions, the attempt to beat the world’s largest crab cake record and the chainsaw sculptors. Kids will enjoy learning how to milk a cow at during the Agricultural Farm tours, and mom and dad can check out hyper-local Maryland food at the farmers market, to you know, balance out that fried Oreo.

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by Borderstan.com July 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

From Ashley Lusk. Check out her blog, Metropoetrylis. Find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her at ashley[AT]borderstan.com.

Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com you’ll always get food news from writers who actually eat in our neighborhood. They know where to find the newest rooftop bars, the brunch with unlimited Mimosas, and the best vegetarian options in the city. That’s why we’re giving you a chance to get to know the writers who bring you the best eats Borderstan has to offer. So, grab your fork and take a seat at our table.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

"Kim Vu"

Kim Vu is one of Borderstan’s food writers. (Courtesy Kim Vu)

Kim Vu is a food writer for Borderstan.

What’s the best resto in DC? Why?

Vu: Eola. The last time I went to Eola I was so excited about the meal, I emailed Alejandra [Owens, Food Editor] and asked her if I could write about it the next week. I’ve never had a bad meal there, and while Komi or Minibar might get more press, I love the dining room, the whole experience, and I love the fact they always go out of their way to make the meal a special occasion.

Describe your food writing style; what kind of story are you looking to tell?

Vu: I like talking about the surprising and the strange. If a restaurant is serving weird parts of a pig, or there’s a place no one’s ever heard of doing amazing things, that’s the gospel I want to spread. If something I write can get people out of the Ruth/Chris/Morton’s of the world, and get them going to local, sustainable restaurants that do more than just steak, that’s the dream.

Which food writers/photographers are inspiring you right now? Who do you look to for food news?

Vu: I love Bourdain and Ruth Reichl, the former for his snark and wit, the latter for her storytelling and the way she describes food without relying too heavily on adjectives (a skill I have yet to master).

What is your version of comfort food?

Vu: Nothing says home to me like pho. I also have a not so secret love of McNuggets and tater tots, but pho is my actual comfort food/hangover cure.

What is the cooking tool you can’t live without?

Vu: I just received my first J.A. Henckels knife block last Christmas, and I love my 7″ Santoku knife.

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by Borderstan.com July 26, 2012 at 10:00 am 4 Comments

From Ashley Lusk and Mike Kohn. Check out Ashley’s blog, Metropoetrylis, find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her at ashley[AT]borderstan.com. Find Mike on Twitter at @mike_kohn or send him an email at mike[AT]borderstan.com.

"Waffle"

Wafflegate: How one local business and Groupon started a news feeding frenzy (Luis Gomez Photos)

We recently learned about the closing of Back Alley Waffles as the news broke on Monday.

However, more surprising than the closing of the establishment is how owner Craig Nelsen informed clients of the restaurant’s closing. Nelsen posted a sign on the door stating that the business went under due to the “bloodthirsty business practices of Groupon.”

It didn’t take long for a picture of that sign to go live and for the news and accusations to start flying, as bloggers, neighbors and local papers worked to get to the bottom of the story.

Admittedly, we personally were among the masses with an initial reaction to side with the much-admired local business, over the aggressive and very large company, Groupon. But as the day went on, and the articles and interviews came out, the full-story unraveled, leaving all initial reactions (including our own) a bit one-sided.

Jessica Sidman at Washington City Paper reached out to Nelsen and was met with no response. Readers of the article, however, quickly contributed comments, blaming Nelsen’s voluntary participation in the Groupon model and his signature of acceptance of their terms.

“I doubt one lone Groupon offer could sink a whole business,” wrote one commenter in the article’s comments. “Surely there were some other financial problems and the owner is conveniently blaming all his problems on Groupon. Any prudent owner would have contacted any of the thousands of other small business owners who have participated in Groupon deals to understand how the payment process worked.”

Nelsen, himself, responded to these comments in The City Paper article and merely incited more responses against his position.

“I opened the waffle shop because I was struggling financially with my art gallery, so, yes, I was under-capitalized from the outset,” wrote Nelsen. “And, yes, I should have read the fine print on the contract, just like I should read the fine print on my Comcast contract.”

Tuesday morning, Business Insider was able to reach Nelsen for an extensive comment on the nature of Groupon’s business, and it published the story right away. Later, however, the story unfolded further as Business Insider” confirmed Groupon’s side of the story, complete with actual numbers and financial terms.

It is regrettable that Back Alley Waffles will no longer be serving steaming waffles along Blagdon Alley. But even more regrettable is the feeding frenzy and blame game that we, as reporters, bloggers and concerned neighborhood residents sometimes play.

Here at Borderstan, we love our small and local businesses — they are what keep our neighborhood unique and thriving, and we make an effort to cover them and profile local businesses. But at the end of the day, we, as well as other publications, are in the business of informing people, not taking sides.

These days, there is a fine line in journalism between delivering news quickly and delivering the whole story accurately — and supporting our local businesses, which form the backbone of our community and commercial corridors. We hope we can continue to keep our balance on that fine line, and keep our readers abreast of the latest community news — including local businesses.

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by Borderstan.com July 19, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

"Markets Borderstan"

Borderstan-area markets are diverse and full of delicious treats. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Ashley Lusk. Check out her blog, Metropoetrylis. Find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her at ashley[AT]borderstan.com.

The aisles of the grocery stores in our neighborhoods demand some attention. Nowhere else in the District can you find such a confluence of diverse populations: the weekdays being dedicated to the mom and the nanny at Whole Foods, while the Sunday morning power-shop is reserved for hipster couples and athletes at Harris Teeter.

You also have the post-work Monday shopper who was too hungover to make it out on Sunday. And the 17th Street NW Safeway practically demands its own dating service since you will be making out with your fellow shopper should you both decide to go down an aisle at the same time.

Yet some would argue that as we’ve sprawled into the brightly lit gleaming aisles of our trusty chain store, we’ve also lost some of the mom and pop market shops that make our neighborhood truly locally owned. We’re here to set that record straight and show you the gems that reside right next door.

Hana | 2000 17th Street NW

When you need your Pocky fix, head to Hana Market. I go here to pick up both cabinet staples and obscure Japanese ingredients. Their website recommends visiting on Thursdays for fresh vegetables from Delaware.

Smucker Farms | 2118 14th Street NW

Head here to get the best of specialty and artisan items like pretzels from the Pennsylvania countryside, DC Kombucha and cookies and snacks from small, family owned producers. In addition, you can also grab a variety of ethically raised meat and dairy products, as well as fruits and vegetables. This is also a pick up point for the Smucker Farms CSA.

Cork and Fork | 1522 14th Street, NW

If your wine knowledge extends as far as which red-grape variety of Three-Buck Chuck you’ll be imbibing, head to Cork and Fork immediately. Check out wine tastings on Saturdays at 3 pm throughout July. Not into vino? They also carry a solid selection of micro-brews. This store also accepts used corks as part of their cork-recycling program.

Seasonal Pantry | 1314 9th Street, NW
If you’re not already here for Chef Daniel O’Brien’s supper club menu, then stop in to pick up a variety of locally sourced market items. Among the shelves you’ll find canned vegetables, fresh sauces and Frenchie’s Handmade Pastries and Desserts (this week: Banana Bread, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Country Sourdough). Borderstan Food Writer Laetitia Brock recommends the Bacon N’ Waffles ice cream sandwiches from Suga Mama Sweets. Also try the seasoned charcuterie (we’ve heard the maple breakfast sausage is incredible) or fresh cuts from the butcher.

Cork Market | 1805 14th Street, NW
Here’s a fact for you: Cork Market’s fried chicken was named a Top 10 Pick by Bon Appetit Magazine. If that’s not mouth-watering enough to make you fight traffic to get here, check out their wine selection with tastings, Monday through Saturday. And you must not forget that Cork Market also makes great Stumptown iced coffee and egg sandwiches.

Habesha |1919 9th St NW

True, you can buy some seriously hearty Ethiopian food for breakfast, lunch or dinner at Habesha, but while you’re waiting why not shop around their wonderfully miniature market for some meat, spices and even injera? Yelpers say this is the place to go for home-style Ethiopian food at great prices. Apparently, you can also pick up phone cards and DVDs.

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by Borderstan.com July 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

From Ashley Lusk. Check out her blog, Metropoetrylis. Find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her at ashley[AT]borderstan.com.

Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com you’ll always get food news from writers who actually eat in our neighborhood. They know where to find the newest rooftop bars, the brunch with unlimited Mimosas, and the best vegetarian options in the city. That’s why we’re giving you a chance to get to know the writers who bring you the best eats Borderstan has to offer. So, grab your fork and take a seat at our table.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

"Namita Koppa"

Namita Koppa is one of Borderstan’s food writers. (Courtesy Namita Koppa)

Namita Koppa is a food writer for Borderstan.

What’s the best resto in DC? Why?

Dino’s in Cleveland Park. I was introduced to it a few years ago during Restaurant Week, and now I go back every single year at the same time. The food is delicious, locally sourced unless it’s straight from Italy, and to my palate, as tasty on the tongue as anything I’ve had in Italy.

Describe your food writing style; what kind of story are you looking to tell?

The stories I like to share are about people, about connection and about food as nourishment for our lives. I love food, making friends and the quirkiness of everyday life. For me, food is very intimate and, therefore, a perfect excuse to cultivate relationships and shared adventures. Food is a tie that binds – anyone, everyone in the world can relate to cuisine, whether it’s gourmet Kobe-style beef or delicious, humble, homemade lentils.

Which food writers/photographers are inspiring you right now? Who do you look to for food news?

 My first hat tip goes to my very talented friend Sala, who authors Veggie Belly. Because I know Sala in real life, I can also see how her blog represents whom she is in so many ways. Her photographs and recipes are gorgeous, and much like her, very graceful in placement, presentation and purpose.

Locally, I regularly check Alicia Sokol’s Weekly Greens. I had the pleasure of randomly meeting her in a Mt. Pleasant coffee shop over a year ago. I was quite taken by her commitment to public health both in her career and personal life, and how effortlessly she seemed to choose kale over cakes (a battle that would be difficult for me!).

Other writers and photographers I follow include Nick at Macheesmo, Hannah at Honey and Jam and Tara at Seven Spoons. How can you not love a blog called Macheesmo?! I love how Nick breaks down his recipes in an easy-to-follow format, plus I find him hilarious. Hannah’s writing and photos about the seasons take me back to my childhood in South Carolina. Tara’s website has been active since 2005, and it’s incredible to read her stories as she transitioned from a lady with a boyfriend to a mother with two children. Her photography is beautiful as well, and she has a way of chronicling life events with exactly the right recipe.

What is your version of comfort food?

I grew up in a South Indian family in South Carolina, so my staples for no-good-very-bad-days are curd rice with tender mango pickle, savory pongal and peach cobbler. Nothing else will satisfy.

What is the cooking tool you can’t live without?

Easy – my rice cooker with attached steamer basket. I’ve made everything from bao to cakes!

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by Borderstan.com July 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

From Ashley Lusk. Check out her blog, Metropoetrylis. Find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her at ashley[AT]borderstan.com.

Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com you’ll always get food news from writers who actually eat in our neighborhood. They know where to find the newest rooftop bars, the brunch with unlimited Mimosas, and the best vegetarian options in the city. That’s why we’re giving you a chance to get to know the writers who bring you the best eats Borderstan has to offer. So, grab your fork and take a seat at our table.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

"Chelsea Rinnig"

Chelsea Rinnig is one of Borderstan’s food writers.  (Courtesy Chelsea Rinnig)

Chelsea Rinnig is a food writer for Borderstan. You can email her at chelsea[AT]borderstan.com

What’s the best resto in DC? Why?

Rinnig: My favorite restaurant in DC thus far has got to be Thai X-ing. I love Thai food and set menus where the chef has the opportunity to cook to his liking. The ambiance is authentic and I hadn’t had those flavors since I was actually in Thailand three years ago.

Describe your food writing style; what kind of story are you looking to tell?

Rinnig: I’m fairly new to writing about food but I have always loved to write what is true and what occupies my thoughts. Healthful eating and balance are a large part of that, as it turns out. We are what we nourish ourselves with, both mentally and physically, and that’s the story that I look for in my recipes and in the restaurants I choose to write about.

Which food writers are inspiring you right now? Who do you look to for food news?

Rinnig: Mark Bittman is one of my favorite food writers for his appreciation of simplicity. Simple recipes can be the most enjoyable if executed well. I also love Anthony Bourdain for his humor and adventurous attitude towards eating. I really admire his ability to marry his love of food to travel, and at times, issues in international development. I don’t commit myself to one blog in particular, but I do check Tastespotting often, both to follow trends as well as for inspiration.

What is your version of comfort food?

Rinnig: Anything with a fried egg on it. I also love fresh strawberries and avocados.

What is the cooking tool you can’t live without?

Rinnig: My Wusthof knives — one of the best gifts I never expected I’d love so much. They make all the difference.

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by Borderstan.com July 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm 0

From Ashley Lusk. Check out her blog, Metropoetrylis. Find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her at ashley[AT]borderstan.com.

Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com you’ll always get food news from writers who actually eat in our neighborhood. They know where to find the newest rooftop bars, the brunch with unlimited Mimosas, and the best vegetarian options in the city. That’s why we’re giving you a chance to get to know the writers who bring you the best eats Borderstan has to offer. So, grab your fork and take a seat at our table.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

"Alejandra Owens"

Alejandra Owens is Borderstan’s food editor. (Courtesy Alejandra Owens)

Alejandra Owens is the Food & Drink Editor for Borderstan and a founding member. She resides in Dupont Circle and writes her own food blog, One Bite at a Time.

What’s the best resto in DC? Why?

Owens: Fiola, because not only is the food consistently phenomenal, the hospitality is too. Whether I’m in for happy hour, lunch at the bar or a formal dinner, Fiola seems to make me feel equally welcome.

Describe your food writing style; what kind of story are you looking to tell?

Owens: No matter what story I am telling, my goal is to stick with my own authentic voice. If readers have ever met me, they’ll know I write how I speak. I don’t mince words, I try to throw in a healthy dose of perspective and I’m always trying to tap into the feelings behind whatever I’m writing or talking about.

Which food writers are inspiring you right now? Who do you look to for food news?

Owens: Francis Lam and Chris Shott are among my favorite folks to read. Both for their style and their perspective. They both seem to write exactly how they speak, making reading them an exercise in getting to know them, too. They challenge the average food story and attempt to address how a topic impacts the food culture around them.

What is your version of comfort food?

Owens: Hands down, my mom’s tacos.

What is the cooking tool you can’t live without?

Owens: I can’t live without the wooden spoon my mom gave me when I moved out of the house. It’s a simple little thing, and I’m sure to her it was a total throw away, but it always reminds me of cooking and baking with her, so it’s become an heirloom of sorts.

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by Borderstan.com July 9, 2012 at 10:00 am 4 Comments

From Ashley Lusk. Check out her blog, Metropoetrylis. Find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her at ashley[AT]borderstan.com.

Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com you’ll always get food news from writers who actually eat in our neighborhood. They know where to find the newest rooftop bars, the brunch with unlimited Mimosas, and the best vegetarian options in the city. That’s why we’re giving you a chance to get to know the writers who bring you the best eats Borderstan has to offer. So, grab your fork and take a seat at our table.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

"Dan Segal Food Writer"

Dan Segal is one of Borderstan’s food writers. (Courtesy Dan Segal)

Dan Segal is a Food Writer for Borderstan.

What’s the best resto in DC? Why?

Segal: If we’re talking best, my spot of the moment is Little Serrow. Johnny Monis turns out traditional yet exciting Thai food and is by far the best chef in our city right now.

However, my favorite spot to eat is Great Wall Szechuan House. This place has been my go-to on lazy nights and rainy days ever since I first moved to DC. The regular Chinese is just fine, but their ma la items (Szechuan style and extremely spicy) are truly special.

Describe your food writing style; what kind of story are you looking to tell?

Segal: My food writing style has always been a bit light-hearted and off the cuff, with (hopefully) a touch of insight. Cooking has been a passion of mine since I was a little kid, so I like to think that I have a commendable understanding of good ingredients and good taste. I like to find the uniqueness of a certain place or food and really touch on that. At the end of the day, I’m really just trying to express how good food impacts my life and to share these experiences with our readers.

Which food writers are inspiring you right now? Who do you look to for food news?

Segal: My most oft-read food blogs are The Amateur Gourmet (I just really like Adam Roberts’ recipes), Serious Eats (the best source ever for food geeks) and Eater DC (the go-to for hot news on DC restaurants). The food writers that really inspire me are Marco Pierre White and Jonathan Gold, both of whom are amazing writers who also happen to talk about great food.

What is your version of comfort food?

Segal: I want to say a juicy, medium-rare cheeseburger with a side of chips or a piping-hot bowl of Pho. But, when it comes down to it, I’d have to say my ultimate comfort food is a cheesesteak sub from Dino’s sub shop in Margate, NJ (right next to Atlantic City). Not only is this the single best sandwich I have ever eaten, but both of my parents were born and raised in this small town (and I still visit my grandmother there all the time), so it is always close to my heart.

What is the cooking tool you can’t live without?

Segal: My hands. I know it’s not technically a “tool,” but I use my hands for everything in the kitchen. Mixing spoon, spatula, fork, you name it. I love the tactile part of cooking and to be able to feel my food. Cooking is definitely a contact sport.

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by Borderstan.com July 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm 0

From Ashley Lusk. Check out her blog, Metropoetrylis. Find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her at ashley[AT]borderstan.com.

Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com you’ll always get food news from writers who actually eat in our neighborhood. They know where to find the newest rooftop bars, the brunch with unlimited mimosas, and the best vegetarian options in the city. That’s why we’re giving you a chance to get to know the writers who bring you the best eats Borderstan has to offer. So, grab your fork and take a seat at our table.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

"Sarah Lipman"

Sarah Lipman is one of Borderstan’s food writers.

Sarah Lipman is a food writer for Borderstan.

What’s the best resto in DC? Why?

Lipman: Vidalia: southern-inspired food that’s classic yet imaginative. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Describe your food writing style; what kind of story are you looking to tell?

Lipman: I want to taste as many different things as possible, connect with the fantastic city of DC and concisely tell the Borderstan readers all about it.

Which food writers are inspiring you right now? Who do you look to for food news?

Lipman: I loved Chris Shott when he was writing for Young & Hungry, and I’m now enjoying what Jessica Sidman has to say as well. The Bitches Who Brunch are a guilty pleasure.

What is your version of comfort food?

Lipman: Mashed potatoes and Thanksgiving-style stuffing. Warm and buttery, these dishes make me feel like I’m surrounded by family.

What is the cooking tool you can’t live without?

Lipman: My phone — to call for takeout or reservations.

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by Borderstan.com June 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm 0

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com

The guys behind local sandwich favorite Taylor Gourmet are expanding their restaurant chain to feed the hungry souls of Dupont Circle, according to Eater DC.

"Taylor Gourmet in DC"

Taylor Gourmet expands to Dupont Circle this July.(Ashley Lusk)

And if that news wasn’t enough to knock your socks off, then brace yourself my fellow hoagie lovers, because the new 19th and M Street NW location is also rumored to be serving breakfast.

The Dupont location, set to open July 2, will be Taylor Gourmet’s fourth spot in the District and sixth in the metro area.

Read our two previous posts on why Borderstanis love Taylor Gourmet on 14th Street NW — and why President Obama does, too!

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by Borderstan.com June 20, 2012 at 10:00 am 0

From Ashley Lusk. Check out her blog, Metropoetrylis. Find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her at ashley[AT]borderstan.com.

So, it’s possible that I went to Paris as a pescetarian (fish plus vegetables, check) and came back a bit of flexitarian (meat isn’t a main part of my diet, but if I have to eat it occasionally, I’ll put it under consideration). The truth is, in Paris they aren’t friendly to us vegetable-loving types; there are too many baguettes and croissants that need eating. We spent our days looking for salads only to find some lettuce and a rare tomato poking around on the plate like it was meant to go on top of a burger.

I rushed home and bowed before my vegetarian bible, Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.” This book is part of Bittman’s James Beard award-winning series on How to Cook Everything, and it ain’t for the faint of heart — this hefty tome is 996 pages of meatless recipes with great flavor.

You may remember Bittman from his New York Times column, “The Minimalist,” where he wrote brilliantly easy guides such as this and this. Last year, however, Mark Bittman retired from “The Minimalist” to pursue a more active commentary on the state of food and American nutrition. Today he writes thoughtful op-eds on our appetite for soda, and global warming by way of meat consumption.

“How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” is a staple for two reasons: first, it’s about real food that vegetarians eat every day and it offers suggestions on how to spice up a sandwich (the most difficult vegetarian meal, in my opinion) or create a complete dinner. Second, the book is scattered with excellent tips for preparing vegetables correctly and in a way that maximizes both flavor and nutrition.

One of my favorite things about Bittman’s style is the offer of variations for every base dish; his suggestions for adding a sauce to spice up plain rice or a gravy that will make leftovers seem like a second meal. He offers careful instructions on preparing meat substitutes like tofu and tempeh. Further, the thing I love most is that the book is indexed by ingredient — extra raspberries in my fridge? Tell me what I can make with them, Mark.

Not vegetarian? You can’t go wrong with Bittman’s original “How to Cook Everything,” which includes beautiful descriptions of food preparations including meat; his explanation of dish origins and his personal tips make this a cookbook series you’ll come back to again and again.

Bittman wrote “this is a beauty,” about the recipe below. Enjoy.

"Cook Books"

Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” series. (Ashley Lusk)

Tomato Cobbler

  • Makes: 6 to 8 servings
  • Time: About 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • Oil or butter for the baking dish
  • 3 lbs ripe tomatoes (8 to 10 medium) and cut into wedges
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking power
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, cut into large pieces and refrigerated until very cold
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, plus more if needed
Preparation:
  1. Grease a square baking dish or a deep pie plate with butter or oil. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Put the tomato wedges in a large bowl and sprinkle with the cornstarch and some salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.
  3. Put the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and baking soda in a food processor along with a teaspoon of salt. Add the butter and pulse a few times until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs. Add the egg and buttermilk and pulse a few times more, until the mixture comes together in a ball. If the mixture doesn’t come together, add a spoonful or two of flour.
  4. Gently toss the tomato mixture again and spread it in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Droop spoonfuls of the batter on the top and smooth a bit with a knife. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden on top and bubbly underneath. Cool to just barley warm or room temperature.

Bittman offers seven additional variations — from adding a cheesy Asiago topping to a leek version, to a cobbler with a piecrust topping, but you’ll have to get the book to check them out!

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by Borderstan.com May 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1 Comment

 

"Borderstan""Wedding Celebration"

Catering, gifts and all you need to know for that special day. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Ashley Lusk. Check out her blog, Metropoetrylis. Find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her.

I’m getting married. Soon. In Borderstan. Because I love this neighborhood and I wanted to have a hyper-local wedding. And my gift to you, to this entire city, is to show you how almost your whole wedding can happen here. In case you missed it, my first piece was on the venue (see A Borderstan Bride’s Guide to the Big Day: First Step, Venue.)

As the countdown to our DC wedding moves into the territory of mere days, I’ve been thinking a lot about how happy I am to have worked with so many local vendors. Nearly all of our wedding is being sourced locally–from the favors, to the food, to even the bridesmaids gifts!

Catering

We knew instantly that we wanted to support Fresh Start Catering, the social enterprise project of DC Central Kitchen. Not only is the food delicious and locally sourced, but we also felt good about working with an organization that literally provides a fresh start for its culinary graduates.

If we hadn’t decided on Fresh Start, we would have asked Amit and Raj over at Spilled Milk Catering to be part of our big day. Friends, their food is legit; if you’re getting married in the District and want a fabulously bold dining experience, these are your guys. I still dream about their spicy tuna in wonton cones and lamb “lollypops.”

Bakeries and Sweets

Which brings me to dessert. If you’ve been to the 14th and U Street Farmer’s Market you already know Jenna from Whisked. What you may not know is that Jenna makes a mean wedding cake too. We picked three flavors to test with Jenna and although her carrot cake and red velvet were perfectly moist, we ultimately decided on an elegant chocolate ganache.

Our wedding favors symbolized one of my favorite things about DC: breakfast. We scooped coffee from Filter Coffeehouse into mini-paper bags and will pair that with a lovely lemon blueberry scone from our new friends at BakeHouse; guests now have instant breakfast or a really great midnight snack. Although BakeHouse will be opening their storefront at 14th and T later this fall, they’re presently taking catering orders and I’m excited to share that menu with you here.

Favors and Gifts

We used Etsy Weddings extensively–always turning on the local filters first to see if we could locate a vendor in the community. It wasn’t DC, but I ended up finding personalized handmade clutches for my bridesmaids from Emily Barron Gifts in Baltimore.

Flowers and Arrangements

One of the few things we are not getting locally are our flowers, but I had a great opportunity to chat with some of the area florists and am happy to share. I called Flowers on Fourteenth when our initial florist backed out at the last minute. Lisa asked me to send her pictures of the bouquets I had in mind and got back to me within hours with an estimate on cost. By DC standards, it was a great deal.

If you’re on a budget, consider visiting Whole Foods on P Street–you can walk through their floral department, make selections from their loose flowers and work with the team there to make your special day bouquets. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to DIY your bouquets, Trader Joe’s has a great selection of flowers from which to choose.

The one thing I won’t share publicly is the brilliant seamstress I discovered during this journey. If you’re serious about wanting to have your dress altered correctly and are willing to get in a car and drive, email me at [email protected] and I’ll give you the info of this coveted woman.

I’m really proud that our wedding will feature so many local flavors and in the end, it actually meant less work for me. We met with all of our vendors directly, and it allowed me to form relationships with people in my neighborhood that will last long after the last piece of wedding cake is gone.

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by Borderstan.com April 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

"Borderstan""Whisked"

Whisked! around the neighborhood. (Ashley Lusk)

From Ashley Lusk. Check out her blog, Metropoetrylis. Find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her.

During the summer season, you’ll find Whisked! among the stalls of food purveyors at the 14th & U Farmers Market — but all year long you can get your pie, cookie, or cupcake fix at pick-up locations in Dupont Circle and Cleveland Park. This week Whisked! announced a new Pie CSA, as well as two additional pick-up locations for their delicious baked treats, including a third location in Borderstan.

In addition to a pick-up at Mr. Yogato at 1515 17th Street NW, you can now grab your Whisked! order at Miss Pixie’s Furnishings and Whatnot, 1626 14th Street NW, which now makes your trip to check out this vintage furniture shop so much sweeter.

The new Pie CSA delivers sweet or savory pies on a weekly or biweekly basis and you can choose to order 6-inch pies (supposedly serves two, but let’s be real, this is all for you) or the 9-inch version (serves 6 to 8 people). Each week you can choose whether to receive the sweet or savory option, and this week those include the Pink Lady Apple Whiskey Pie and the Asparagus and Goat Cheese Savory Tart. This week if you order the savory tart, Weygandt Wines is offering a special wine pairing – Gruner Veltliner – at $12 for Whisked! customers.

Placing an order is simple:

  1. Go to whiskeddc.com to place your order by midnight on Tuesday
  2. Choose one of four locations for your pick-up
  3. Swing by after 5 pm on Friday or during operating hours on Saturday to pick up your dinner or dessert from Whisked!

Your can also pick up Whisked! orders from Weygandt Wines at 3519 Connecticut Avenue NW in Cleveland Park, or The Cupboard in Capitol Hill at 1504 East Capitol Street NE.

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by Borderstan.com April 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

From Ashley Lusk. Check out her blog, Metropoetrylis. Find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her.

Hank's, Oyster, Bar, Oysterfest, Dupont, Circle

Get your tickets now for the Oyster Fest, and be prepared to stand! (Kim Vu)

Just how many oysters can one eat? Our bet is on eight before it requires the full weight of a delicious, cold brew to wash it down. Luckily, you can test this theory for yourself during the 5th annual Oyster Fest at Hank’s Oyster Bar on April 21.

Hit up the Dupont or Old Town Alexandria locations between 11 am and 3 pm for all-you-can-eat oysters served a variety of ways. Check out beers from local breweries, enter the prize raffles and chat with local oyster purveyors about the fundamentals of this briny sea treat.

Chef Jaime Leeds is sure to have some of your favorite beers on tap — we think a Troegs Pale Ale will do quite nicely.

Tickets are $80 for this popular event and they sell out early. Remember to bring your comfortable shoes — it’s usually standing room only.

The Dupont Circle location of Hank’s Oyster Bar is located at 1624 Q Street NW (just off 17th Street), and in Old Town Alexandria at 1026 King Street.

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