Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Things to Do: Spies of Georgetown Walking Tour

I just came across an interesting event being sponsored by Things to Do DC and wanted to share.  I'm thinking about going to this myself.

Spies of Georgetown Walking Tour
Thursday, September 2, 2010 7:00-10:00PM
 A small tobacco port 250 years ago, Georgetown today is one of the most fashionable areas of Washington, and is associated with high-profile political figures, media moguls, and society leaders. However, there is another side of Georgetown: espionage and intrigue.

This approximately two and one half hour walking tour will highlight sites associated with spies, counter-spies, and covert action successes and failures, and will include personalities as diverse as Alger Hiss, "Wild Bill" Donovan, James Angleton, and Betty Pack, an auburn-haired American beauty who successfully spied for the Allies during World War II.

Come learn real-life stories that took place in the narrow historic streets, trendy restaurants, and stylish homes of "fashionable Georgetown."
Suggested Attire: Casual

Meet in front of the Georgetown Public Library, corner of Wisconsin Avenue, NW and R Street, NW

Cost: $20.00

Price subject to increase 5 PM Tuesday, August 31
To purchase your tickets, click here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Restaurant Week Review: Bibiana

After being treated to an amazing lunch at Carmine's the previous day, I ventured out again this time to Bibiana (It's actually called Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca but for brevity I'm sticking with Bibiana). It's located in the heart of downtown about a block away from the Grand Hyatt on H Street.

I arrived about 15 minutes early for the reservation and took the time to observe the beautiful surroundings while I waited for my sorority sister to arrive.  When you enter through the glass entrance you are greeted by an expansive bar.  The restaurant is filled with dark woods, mirrors, black leather and silver accents, it felt very modern and posh.

Once we were seated we continued to check out the scene. The restaurant was packed, not sure if everyone was there for Restaurant Week (RW) or it's usually like that but I took it as a good thing.  We quickly glanced at our menu and decided what we wanted. 

For appetizers, we had the Suppli al Telefono (rice fritter) and Soppresata (Italian-dry cured salami) with pickled vegetables. My rice fritter was a ball of deliciousness.  It was rice (the consistency was more like risotto though) and it was filled with mozzarella, peas, ham, and tomato sauce.  It was sooo good. I could definitely see myself going back for happy hour just to order that with a glass of white wine.

Next was the main course, she ordered the Atlantic skate while I asked for the steak.  When my dish came out I had to admit it wasn't at all what I expected.  It truly looked like a gourmet hamburger (without the bun) and fries.  Truthfully, had I known it was going to be ground steak I'm sure I would've ordered something else.  I'm not really a fan of burgers or ground beef for that matter.  The steak was cooked to perfection and was well-seasoned, the potatoes were enjoyable but I would've preferred they weren't fried.  Needless to say eventhough it was a nicely sized portion I ended up devouring it.

Finally, it was time for the dessert.  I remember as I was waiting a woman walked up to the host stand and proclaimed that their chocolate mousse was the best she'd ever had in her life.  After hearing that glowing comment of course I had to try it.  It come out with some type of nutty wafer on top and was drizzled with a hazelnut syrup.  It was heavenly!  Each bite was savored and I'm sure I even made a few noises to express how happy I was with my choice.

Bibiana definitely did not disappoint.  Although I was satisfied with all of my selections, my favorite was the chocolate mousse hands down. Buon Appetito!

Food A-
Ambiance A
Service B

Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca
1100 New York Ave Washington, DC 20005

(202) 216-9550

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Restaurant Review: Carmine's DC

I first noticed Carmine's was coming to DC, a couple of months back when I was going to see a performance of Step Afrika at the Lansburgh Theater on 7th Street NW.  It's the latest restaurant to open in DC's Penn Quarter section.

I was familiar with the name because I had been to Carmine's several years ago with family while on a trip to New York City.  Truthfully, I can't remember what I thought of the food, all I remember is the walls were covered with photos of famous Italians.

When I found out not only had they just opened but they were participating in Restaurant Week, I jumped at the opportunity.  I invited one of my co-workers who is soon to be leaving to start B-School at Wharton (impressive right?).  We arrived around 1:30 for our lunch reservation and were seated along the wall so we had a great view of the restaurant. 

It's designed to feel like you're in someone's Old Italy-style home from the light wood flooring to the rustic chandeliers.  We were seated and then greeted by not one but three separate waiters and waitresses.  Our main waitress was extremely familiar with the menu, surprisingly so being that the restaurant had only been open for 2 weeks, and told us anything we could have possibly wanted to know about anything featured on the menu.  Throughout lunch, several of them continued to cater to us and made sure we were comfortable and never in need of anything.

While we were discovering the menu, all of a sudden we became fascinated with what the waiter brought out to the gentleman seated next to us.  I hate staring but I couldn't keep my eyes off of the largest piece of bread pudding I'd ever seen in my life.  The way the waiter sat it down, it just looked heavy and everyone around us laughed at the thought of this man trying to tackle this absurdly large dessert.  (See photo to the right and that was after a few bites)

After the laughter died down, I ended up ordering a Meatball Hero and my co-worker a Portabello Mushroom Hero, both minus the bread with caesar salads.  As soon as we put our order in a huge basket of bread came out, there were about 5 different types of bread, two of each.  Since, I ordered my hero without the bread, I figured I could indulge a little.  There was one piece that absolutely melted in my mouth.  It was topped with garlic, marinara sauce, and a little shaved parmesan.  In my Long Island accent, it was simply "To die for".

There was a slight wait as we anticipated our meals but we had plenty of bread to try which kept us satiated.  In the tradition of family-style the food and salads arrived together.  When I say the portions are huge, that would be an understatetment.  They could only be described as gigantic, colossal, or whatever adjectives describes a massive amount of anything. 

By the time I finished my caesar salad, I looked at the meatballs like do I want to even dare.  I barely managed to eat one when the waitress was like, yeah I knew you weren't going to finish that.   My co-worker wasn't all that impressed with her portabello but she's a picky eater so I figured it would be hard to please her. 

Everything I had was seasoned exceptionally well, the service could not have been any better, and I still can't believe all the food they give you for only $9.  We didn't even get to take advantage of Restaurant Week since it was so affordable.  I definitely look forward to going back soon!

Food A+
Ambiance B
Service A+

The Penn Quarter District
425 7th Street NW
Washington DC 20004

Friday, August 13, 2010

Things to Do: Step Afrika at the Kennedy Center (FREE)

Join Step Afrika and the Washington Performing Arts Society for a free show at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts on Sunday, August 15th at 6:00PM. See the flyer posted below.  For more information visit, http://www.stepafrika.org/.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Foodie Alert: New Orleans Restaurants Pt. 2

In addition to my old favorites, I have two new ones that I'd highly recommend to anyone traveling to New Orleans.

Two Sisters Kitchen (not to be mistaken with a Court of Two Sisters) is a small, down home restaurant situated in a green house on N. Derbigny Street. It is located about 5 minutes down Canal Street from the French Quarter. 

We met the owner, Ms. Doris, while we were there and she was incredibly friendly, wish the same could be said for the staff.  Don't let the staff be a deterrent though, the food was absolutely amazing.  It's clear that it's a local favorite so they don't bother to roll out the red carpet or put on a show like the larger touristy restaurants do, it's completely no frills. We had gumbo, meatloaf, and fried catfish along with sides of macaroni and cheese, potato salad, and rice.  The portions are hearty and it seems like everyone leaves there with a to-go box.  In total, the three of us paid $24 for our meal including drinks, unbelievable for a sit down restaurant these days. Everything was fantastic but let me say the potato salad was like nothing I had ever tasted before.  The consistency was more like mashed potatoes and they were light and fluffly clouds of pure deliciousness.

Advice: Don't forget to bring cash, they don't accept credit cards.  They do have an ATM but the fee is something ridiculous.  Your meal is only going to cost between $6-10, so why pay an ATM fee of $5.00+

The Gumbo Pot is located on Decatur Street, a cute, funky part of the French Quarter that is known for its quirky boutiques and shops.  If you're a dress lover like me don't forget to stop by a boutique called Wish on your way to this place.  The clothes there are very affordable and will get you complimented everytime.  But back to the topic at hand...food.  The Gumbo Pot, as you guessed it, features several different types of gumbo.

My Mother and I both ordered the seafood gumbo and my Aunt had the chicken and andouille sausage gumbo.  Both were delicious and very rich. Everything tasted so fresh, I hoped I would have left overs but I found myself scooping up the very last drop within a matter of minutes.  Our waitress was incredibly friendly and ultimately shared with us everything from how she ended up in New Orleans to her personal Hurricane Katrina story.  In addition to the great food, we enjoyed the candor.  Also, the prices are very reasonable, I think a bowl of gumbo may have been $9 or $10.

Advice: Order a bowl, not a cup.  The cup is $2-$3 cheaper but it's like 1/3 a size of the bowl.

Well, I hope you enjoy my restaurant suggestions, I went a few other places to eat while down there but these restaurants were hands down my favorites.  As they say in New Orleans, 'Laissez les bon temps rouler'!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

H Street's Own Restaurant Week August 16-22

Just received word that the H Street Corridor is offering their own version of Restaurant Week to coincide with DC's official week.  From August 16-22, many of the restaurants will be offering three course meals for $20.10, not $35.10, for both lunch and dinner, and in some cases breakfast.

The H Street Corridor is trying their hardest to compete with the likes of Georgetown, Gallery Place, and Penn Quarter where restaurants are concerned.  Hopefully, this promotion encourages more people to support the businesses in this up-and-coming part of NE.

Here's a listing of the participating restaurants.

Argonaut – 1433 H Street
Biergarten Haus – 1355 H Street
Capital City Diner – 1050 Bladensburg Road
Dangerously Delicious Pies – 1339 H Street
Ethiopic – 401 H Street
Granville Moore’s – 1238 H Street
H Street Country Club – 1335 H Street
Liberty Tree – 1016 H Street
Star and Shamrock – 1341 H Street
Sticky Rice – 1224 H Street

Taylor Gourmet – 1116 H Street
For a complete listing of the menu items they have available for this promotion, click here.

Foodie Alert: New Orleans Restaurants Pt. 1

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to eat, glad I have a high metabolism.  I spent a week in New Orleans and had the chance to sample what The Big Easy is known for, no not their Hurricanes and Hand Grenade drinks, but their food. 

Three of my trusted favorites are Mothers, NOLA and Cafe du Monde.  All three restaurants / cafes are uniquely different but are the epitome of New Orleans and its rich culture.  I also had a chance to try two other places Two Sisters and The Gumbo Shop.  If you'll be going to New Orleans anytime soon, I'd suggest you try out all of these places, you will not be disappointed.

Mother's Restaurant is located on Poydras Street near the W Hotel.  You'll know it when you see it because of the long lines that lead up to the door.  It doesn't matter what time of the year or time of the day, you're sure to find long lines and it's worth the wait.  Mother's caters to both locals and visitors.  They serve authentic New Orleans specialities like Crawfish Etouffe, Seafood Gumbo, Red Beans & Rice and bread pudding (all of those dishes are to die for). 

Once you make it in side, you will order your food cafeteria style then within 5 minutes it's delivered to your table.  They serve large portions and most meals range from $10-$15.  You will definitely leave feeling satisfied.  Advice: You'll notice they have signs posted saying "No Tipping Allowed".  I always disregard this policy and you'll notice most of the other patrons will too because the servers are amazing and extremely hospitable.  I couldn't imagine leaving them empty-handed, just be discrete when you hand them their tip. Learn more about Mother's

NOLA Oh how I love NOLA which is short for New Orleans, Louisiana of course.  It was the second restaurant opened by Chef Emeril Lagasse in 1992 and located on St. Charles Street in the French Quarter.  If you aren't familiar with Emeril, he's known for his love of New Orleans and also by his favorite saying "BAM". 

NOLA offers all of the tastes of New Orleans but with a higher-end price tag.  You definitely get what you pay for at this place.  The service is impeccable and you'll have not one but two or even three servers to attend to your every need.  This was my third time going and everything I had was absolutely delicious as it always is.  I highly recommend the barbecue shrimp, lobster salad, shrimp and grits, creole redfish, and the pork chop (see the picture I took to the right, I'm not a huge pork fan but it was the best pork chop I've ever had). Advice: Save room for dessert.  My favorite is the trio of creme brulee but all of their desserts are decadent and worth every last calorie. Learn more about NOLA

Cafe du Monde is another must visit cafe located in the French Quarter.  They are known for their beignets, which are delectable French doughnuts that melt in your mouth.  In each order just get 3 beignets covered, I mean seriously covered, in powdered sugar.  You can order several kinds of coffee with your beignets or wash them down with a cold glass of milk (I don't drink either, water works for me). 

They have a two locations in New Orleans proper the actual cafe, also known as the French Market,  is located on Decatur Street and open 24 hours(pictured to the left) and another mini-location at The Riverwalk, near the convention center.  For the total experience check out the French Market cafe. Advice: Sit on the outside, it's great for people watching.  Don't wear anything dark because you will have powdered sugar all over you by the time you finish. Learn more about Cafe du Monde

Since this post is longer than I anticipated, I'll write about my new finds, Two Sisters and The Gumbo Shop, in my next post.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Review: Artfully Chocolate Kingsbury Confections (aka ACKC)

Recently, I went to Artfully Chocolate Kingsbury Confections, or better known as ACKC, a cocoa bar & cafe for the first time.  Walking up to the spot I had no idea what to expect. 

In front of the cafe there was a small area for patio seating but because of the oppressive heat that day no one was willing to take a chance at getting heat stroke.

When we walked in there were all types of chocolate gift baskets and a large selection of chocolate from bars to individuals pieces.  I even spotted the "ChocObama" bar (pictured above) The cozy cafe was eclectically decorated with tchotchkes throughout the shop and sitting area.  I also noticed signs that they have free Wi-Fi, always a plus.

My friend and I walked over to the wine bar.  I had a glass of sparkling wine, prosecco to be exact, and he a glass of red, Shiraz.  We asked the server to suggest some chocolates he thought would pair well with our wine selections and he complied.  As we sat there, the manager came over and warmly greeted us, which is rare these days.  We sat and chatted with her for a while as we enjoyed all of our selections.

All in all, our experience at ACKC was great!  I look forward to going back to sample more of their delicious wines and rich chocolates.  I hope to try some of their desserts next time.  Must try: The Wine & Chocolate Flight, it's only $12 and includes three 1.5 oz. pours each paired with a unique chocolate bite.

Savvy Deal: 
From now through August 13, spend $10 and get $20 worth of chocolates & drinks at ACKC. Click here for this special offer. (It's Free PLUS you will get $5 just for signing up meaning you'll only pay $5 for $20 worth of spending.  What could be better?)

1529 14th Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20005-3785
(202) 387-2626