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by Borderstan.com — May 17, 2013 at 11:30 am 0

"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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by Borderstan.com — January 8, 2013 at 11:00 am 0

"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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by Borderstan.com — January 7, 2013 at 4:00 pm 1 Comment

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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by Borderstan.com — December 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

"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:

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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by Borderstan.com — December 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

"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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by Borderstan.com — October 18, 2012 at 11:00 am 0

"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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by Borderstan.com — August 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm 163 3 Comments

"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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by Borderstan.com — August 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm 0

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 [email protected] or visit the website at www.bourbonsteakdc.com.

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by Borderstan.com — August 15, 2012 at 10:00 am 2 Comments

"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 [email protected] 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?

by Borderstan.com — July 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm 1 Comment

"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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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 11, 2012 at 11:00 am 0

"Venus-Jamba_Collage"

Jamba Juice opened a new location in Dupont Circle with tennis star Venus Williams on hand at the 19th Street store. (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.

The opening event in Dupont even featured Venus Williams, who is not only a tennis celebrity but also an entrepreneur. Williams and Jamba Juice created a partnership that brought the smoothie chain to the District. Williams said that her partnership with Jamba Juice is an extension of her commitment in the fight against obesity and to promote a healthy active lifestyle.

Jamba Juice holds a special place in my heart. See, there was a location of this smoothie chain not far from my Phoenix, Arizona, high school. Young, rebellious students that we were, sneaking off campus a little bit early to extend our off-campus lunch time was our singular goal most days. The coordination efforts began early — 1st period even. Someone with a car that day would be identified, another would distract the parking lot monitor, then we would all lobby and jockey for a position in said car. Most days we got out of the high school parking lot just fine, other days we were glumly told to turn around and wait until our lunch hour allowed.

So when I heard Jamba Juice was opening a franchise here in DC, something tugged at my heart strings. It was like I was 16-years -old all over again, speeding out of the parking lot listening to a recently released “She Bangs” by Ricky Martin (what? we were young… and stupid… or something). The franchise has expanded their menu offerings substantially since my Ricky Martin days — offering smoothies, yes, but also probiotic drinks, flatbread sandwiches, teas, oatmeal and parfaits.

While I don’t get a hankering for smoothies the way I used to, I may just be seen sneaking off “campus” at lunch time heading toward the red line to nab a classic “Mango-A-Go-Go.” The new location is at 1333 19th Street NW.

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by Borderstan.com — July 6, 2012 at 10:00 am 0

"Corn"

Enjoy corn during the season. (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. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com.

I should start off by saying, I am not the biggest corn fan. It’s seriously in season at the markets right now and a quick skim of all the food blogs shows an abundance of recipes for corn chowder or corn and bean salads or worse…cornbread with corn actually in it. The horror! Nope. I don’t don’t go gaga over the stuff, but for two preparations: popped or grilled. Today, I’m here to share with you my grilled corn recipe, which really is no secret to Paula Deen lovers and those from the South.

Be prepared for mess, or ask, as I did, a dinner companion to “help.” Which is to say, you sprinkle or splarge the ingredients on the corn while they do the spreading or rotating.

Step One: Place one cleaned ear of corn in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil large enough to completely wrap around it.

Step Two: Splarge (a very technical term) 1-2 tablespoons of mayo (yes, I said mayo) onto the corn and evenly spread it over the whole ear of corn.

Step Three: Sprinkle Cholula dry seasoning evenly all over the ear of corn. Sprinkle finely grated parmesan all over the ear of corn, completely coating it in cheese. Feelin’ like something spicy? Add a few dashes of Tabasco sauce!

Step Four: You’ll probably want to wash your hands at this point…then wrap it all up in the foil and place on a hot grill (300-350 degrees) for 15 minutes or so.

Step Five: Unwrap corn and devour.

I mean really, how can this be bad? It can’t. And I’m not even a huge fan of mayo as a condiment! Basically whenever I make this grilled corn I become fixated on it, unable to speak or eat anything else until I’ve consumed the entire ear. True story. The stuff is addictive.

Make a few ears for your BBQ this week and let me know what you think!

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by Borderstan.com — July 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm 2 Comments

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.

This post originally ran on July 2, 2010.

"Jello Cake for 4th of July"

Yes, there is jello in this cake, beneath the 4th of July fruit decoration. (ubikiberry on Flickr)

Note from Matt Rhoades: I am a child of rural Illinois: I know jello. Sometimes I still like to eat it. I just do. You can put most any sort of fruit, vegetable or nut in it on it or around it. It can be a salad or a desert or both simultaneously. Jello comes in many colors and flavors and can be topped with a plethora of toppings including mayonnaise and whipped cream. Cakes are made with jello. At my request, Alejandra Owens prepared this wonderful post on jello, jello-based recipes and their vital importance in 4th of July holiday food.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I’m from Arizona and I’m half Mexican-American to boot. So I didn’t really grow up with a lot of Americana from the kitchen. For the 4th of July, there was potato salad, BBQ chicken and maybe, if I was lucky, a fruit salad.

But when I moved to the East Coast, I had a lot of friends who spoke of American Flag Jello molds and red, white and blue trifles. This is completely elusive to me. Who spends five hours making an American flag out of Jello?! No. I’m not kidding. That recipe says it takes 5 hours to make. I assume with all that Jello setting, it would take some time.

Of Jello and Flag Cakes

I mean, even Ina Garten of Hampton-based fame has a flag cake recipe! I’ve heard of some other crazy “America recipes” as I guess you could call them, but I’m wondering: What’s the nuttiest flag-inspired food you’ve seen? Will you be making something like this yourself?

Nigella Lawson’s Gin and Tonic Jelly

This weekend, I’d say, if you’re going to do something with Jell-O, you know what I’d recommend? Make Nigella Lawson’s Gin and Tonic Jelly. I haven’t tried it yet–but, oh, I plan on it. And, yes, I see the irony in making a 4th of July recipe from a British food writer.

This is as close to Jello-anything as I’m going to get and I appreciate the thin veil of sophistication that protects me from essentially saying, I want you to make this giant Jello shot. Serve it at your BBQ and watch your family members get tipsy.

After all, it’s a Nigella recipe. So not only can we be sure it will taste good, but we’ll all look extra sexy eating it too. I’ll warn you now, Nigella’s recipe is all in metric measurements. Even in her cookbook it’s like that. So don’t get on me about it in the comments. If you’d like to offer your conversion services, then we can talk!

Have a wonderful holiday, folks!

Gin and Tonic Jelly

Ingredients

  • 300ml plus 50ml water
  • 300g caster sugar
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 400ml tonic water (not slimline!)
  • 250ml gin
  • 25g/15 sheets of leaf gelatine
  • 2 punnets white currants or 3 to 4 punnets raspberries, optional
  • 1 teaspoon icing sugar if using raspberries
  • 1¼ litre jelly mold, lightly greased with almond or vegetable oil

Preparation

  1. Put the water and sugar into a wide, thick-bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil. Let boil for 5 minutes, take off the heat, add the lemon zest and leave to steep for 15 minutes. Strain into a measuring jug, then add the lemon juice, the tonic water and the gin; you should have reached the 1,200 ml mark; if not, add more tonic water, gin or lemon juice to taste.
  2. Soak the gelatine leaves in a dish of cold water for 5 minutes to soften. Meanwhile, put 50 ml of water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, squeeze out the gelatine leaves and whisk them in. Pour some of the gin and lemon syrup mixture into the saucepan and then pour everything back into the jug. Pour into the mold and, when cold, put in the fridge to set. This should take about 6 hours.
  3. When you are ready to unmold, half-fill a sink with warm water and stand the jelly mold in it for 30 seconds or so. Clamp a big flat plate over the jelly and invert to unmold, shaking it as you do so. If it doesn’t work, stand it in the warm water for another half-minute or so and try again. If you’ve used a dome mold, surround the jelly with white currants (Sainsbury’s sells them in summer, as do many greengrocers’), or fill the hole with them if you’ve used a ring mold. Raspberries are just as good, but dust these with icing sugar — it sounds poncey, but it makes the pale-jade glimmer of the jelly and the otherwise-too-vibrant red of the fruit come together on the plate. The white currants should be left to glimmer, opal-like, without interference.

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by Borderstan.com — June 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1 Comment

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.

"Cherries at the Farmers Market"

Just waiting to be made into Cherry Almond Cake. (Alejandra Owens)

Cherries are, by far, my favorite summer fruit. Mostly because they’re a fruit that doubles as interactive sport. Uncouth as it may be, I’m a pro cherry pit spitter. Slam dunks into trash cans, spot on target practice with unwitting victims (usually our dogs back at home)…I say screw it with that pseudo-sexual cherry stem tying shit and go right for the pit spitting.

But I also enjoy cherries and their robust flavor for baking. Last summer I had procured, per usual, too many pints of cherries and had to do something with them. (Why am I always baking at the last possible ripened minute?) After watching some Cooking Chanel, I decided to play around with one of my favorite cherry pairings, almonds, and a cake a recipe that seemed nice enough, but really dull.

The result was my cherry almond cake. It was moist, fluffy and had a nice crumb to it. It’s a perfect breakfast cake or light dessert, you need only brave the pain of pitting all the cherries because this particular cake is so damn easy to pull together!

What will you be making with cherries this season? Anyone making ice creams sans an ice cream maker lately? I’d love some tips and recipes if you’d like to share!

Cherry Almond Cake

Inspired by Laura Calder’s Angel Cakeand the cherry almond scones at Dolcezza in Dupont Circle.

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1-1 1/2c pitted, rough chopped cherries (very rough, cut each half in half)
  • 1/4c ground almonds, 1 tbsp sliced almonds
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease and line a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Beat the whites to stiff peaks in a bowl. Beat in the yolks, one by one. Continuing to beat, add the sugar and vanilla, and finally the flour. You should have a very high, moussy batter. Gently fold in the cherries and ground almonds.
  3. Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake until golden on top, risen high, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let the cake cool 15 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and let cool completely. Transfer the cake to a serving platter.
  4. Serve with whipped cream, creme fraiche, parfait, or ice cream. Ideally I would have eaten this, I mean, served this, with creme fraiche…but it was just me. And I didn’t have time to make creme fraiche. I wanted to eat it all. Now. But for you guys, who might take this to a party, serve it with creme fraiche!

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