Archive for the 'Washington D.C.' Category

Baked & Wired – Washington D.C.

Baked & Wired - Washington D.C.

Given the extensive itinerary that Destination D.C. cooked up for the culinary tour, I added only two supplemental destinations to the list: 2 Amys and Georgetown Cupcakes. An impromptu meal at the city’s best pizzeria went off without a hitch, while grabbing a cupcake proved to be far more difficult. Who would have thought?

Georgetown Cupcake - Washington D.C.

Following our meal at 2 Amys, my cousin Kristine and I hopped a bus traveling down Wisconsin Avenue to make our way to Georgetown. As we approached the famed bakery, we spied a line stretching outside its doors and well around the block. I’m certain that a series of unsavory words escaped my lips while gawking at the madness.

We approached the person at the very front of the line to inquire about the wait time and were told an hour and a half. I was curious to taste a cupcake that supposedly rivaled Sprinkles, but could not muster enough gusto, guts, and patience to endure such a lengthy line. So, off we went to Baked & Wired.

Baked & Wired - Washington D.C.

Baked & Wired is strategically located up the street from Georgetown Cupcakes and has attracted a steady following including Kristine’s roommate and one of the locals on the press trip. Both parties vouched that its wares were superior to Georgetown’s.

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2 Amys – Washington D.C.

2 Amys - Washington D.C.

Following the delightful progressive lunch at Chef José Andrés’ five restaurants, my levelheaded blogging companions headed back to the hotel for a nap and explored Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian. While both of these activities appealed to me on some level, I decided to do the unthinkable.

After meeting up with my cousin Kristine at Dupont Circle, we hightailed it to 2 Amys for pristine pies. Even though my belly was filled nearly to the brim, leaving D.C. without a meal here would’ve been a travesty.

2 Amys - Washington D.C.

2 Amys serves what is arguably the best pizza in The District. The restaurant is a member of the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, which was established “to protect and promote authentic Neapolitan pizza and defend its Neapolitan origins and traditions.” This means that the restaurant only uses soft-grain flour, fresh yeast, water, and sea salt in its dough, and only Italian plum tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh basil, and dried oregano for toppings. Furthermore, all pizzas are cooked in a wood-burning oven.

The folks at 2 Amys have been rewarded for their serious pizza making efforts with legions of devoted fans and lots of great press.

2 Amys - Washington D.C.

We arrived at the restaurant sometime after the Saturday lunch rush and were seated immediately at a table by the window. Kristine insisted that we sample some small bites before diving into pizzas, and I wholeheartedly agreed.

The pork rillettes ($6) arrived in chunk-form, dressed with a bit of olive oil and flaky salt. A few snappy cornichons were served on the side for balance. We slathered the pork onto some bread and savored the creamy fat embedded with shredded meat. Try as I might to stuff more than a bite of this into my system, it was too rich for my current state. My cousin stepped up to the plate and manhandled the decadent plateful of pork.

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José Andrés Washington D.C. Restaurant Tour: Minibar, Café Atlántico, Oyamel, Jaleo, Zaytinya

Jose Andres Washington D.C. Restaurant Tour

A tour of D.C.’s food scene wouldn’t be complete without examining Chef José Andrés‘ restaurant empire. The Think Food Group owns five highly lauded eateries in the metropolitan area: Minibar by Jose Andrés, Café Atlántico, Oyamel, Jaleo, and Zaytinya. Located within walking distance of one another in Penn Quarter, each restaurant has a different vibe and a distinct culinary viewpoint.

On our second day in the city, we enjoyed a progressive lunch at Chef Andrés’ restaurants. My feelings were lukewarm at best after dining at The Bazaar by José Andrés in Los Angeles, so this tour offered the perfect opportunity to experience the chef’s cuisine on his home turf. I was hoping to be wowed.

Minibar by José Andrés

Cafe Atlantico - Washington D.C.

With Minibar tucked into the second floor of Café Atlántico, our first two stops turned out to be one in the same. The six seat  Minibar (yep,  just six seats!) serves an avant-garde tasting menu with upwards of 30 courses. “This is food that owes as much to art and science as it does to gastronomy, food that is as much about the brain and eye as it is about the tongue and stomach, food that forces the diner to rethink food and its presentation,” states the restaurant’s website.

Minibar by Jose Andres - Washington D.C.

As a tremendous fan of Spanish molecular gastronomy, I was most excited to experience Minibar. Unfortunately, we were only given a taste, literally and figuratively, of what the restaurant had to offer.

“Olives Ferran Adria” arrived on a porcelain spoon in a shallow pool of olive oil. The spherified green olive encompassed all the qualities of a great olive, minus the proper texture. I’ve experienced these spheres dozens of times, but the sensation of the thin membrane popping and unleashing a flood of flavored liquid never gets old. [Watch Ferran Adria and José Andrés explain the spherification process here.]

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Birch & Barley – Washington D.C.

Birch & Barley - Washington D.C.

Birch & Barley, a ground-breaking D.C. restaurant dedicated to artisanal beers, was the site of our second dinner in the city. I was a bit nervous about dining here because truth be told, I don’t like beer. Try as I might to embrace the sudsy stuff, beer and I just haven’t grown very tight over the years. In fact, there’s only been one brew in my experience that didn’t elicit a bitter face—La Fin Du Monde, a champagne-like beer from Québec.

Even though I haven’t had the best experiences with beer, I came here with an open mind and a willing palate. This evening, our group indulged in a tasting menu ($55) with beer pairings ($22) orchestrated by Chef Kyle Bailey (Cru, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Allen and Delancey) and beer director Greg Engert. Bread service and sweets were masterfully handled by Chef Tiffany MacIsaac (Cru, Union Square Cafe, Allen and Delancey).

Greg Engert - Birch & Barley Beer Sommelier

Mr. Engert, who was recently named by Food & Wine magazine as Sommelier of the Year, was on hand to expertly guide us through the evening’s libations. He came to our table at the beginning of each course to introduce the beer pairing, telling us about its history, origin, and distinctive qualities. His immense and intense passion came through with each delivery, inspiring me to give every beer a fair shake and to appreciate its craftsmanship. We sampled a lot of beers throughout the course of the night, but it barely made a dent in the 555 artisanal brews (500 in bottles, 50 on tap, five cask-pumped) that Birch & Barley sources.

Birch & Barley - Washington D.C.

Before the official tasting began, a series of light appetizers arrived to amuse our bouches. These were paired with a thoroughly delightful ale brewed with raspberries from Italy called Rubus. The first bite were arrancini, fried risotto balls with peas, prosciutto, mint, and Fontina. The panko crust was just about perfect.

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