Young and Hungry

Etto Team Collaborates With New Columbia Distillers on Vermouth

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Etto co-owner Peter Pastan and manager Kat Hamidi have been making vermouth at the 14th Street NW restaurant since it opened and at Obelisk before that. Now, they're partnering with Green Hat Gin producer New Columbia Distillers to bottle and distribute the product, which they're planning to call Capitoline Vermouth.

"We've tasted a lot of mediocre to bad vermouth over the years," Hamidi says. "We had been making this product in the restaurants for some years, and we decided that it's a lot of fun and it's really delicious, so let's see if people like it as much as we do."

Hamidi says they plan to produce a couple different recipes, although she's waiting to share specifics until closer to the release. "The vermouth that we make is not what most consumers think of when they think of vermouth," she says. "It's got a little bit more complexity." The goal is make Capitoline available in bars, restaurants, and liquor stores throughout the city.

The group is currently in the middle of getting the bottle labels approved by federal regulators. They're aiming to debut the vermouth sometime this summer.

Photo of Etto's vermouth by Jessica Sidman

Last Night’s Leftovers: Mac and Cheese Nachos Edition

nachosPork Barrel BBQ customer invents nacho mac and cheese mash-up. [Eater]

Beer and wine festivals are a huge pain. So why do them? [WBJ]

The 10 best brunches in D.C. [Zagat]

Seven Mother's Day dining options [Washingtonian]

Critic Tom Sietsema cooks with his mom. [Post]

Drink from a personal booze-filled barrel at Bourbon and Toro Toro. [Express]

Food writer Josh Ozersky dies at age 47. [NYTimes]

Photo via Pork Barrel BBQ

Brine Opens Today With Rotisserie Fish Heads and Plankton Pasta

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Rappahannock Oyster Co. co-founder Travis Croxton has a new place to show off his Chesapeake Bay oysters and seafood of the mid-Atlantic. Brine opens today in Fairfax's Mosaic District with former Bourbon Steak chef John Critchley helming the kitchen.

Brine will highlight fish like croaker and perch that are readily available locally but not often found on menus because everyone is looking for salmon. Five choices of simply prepared fish come with a selection of sauces like preserved lemon aioli and wakame seaweed salsa verde. Meanwhile, invasive blue catfish is battered and fried for fish and chips with malt vinegar fries.

Some day in the future, Croxton would like to hire some hook-and-line fisherman, so the restaurant can provide its own fish as well as oysters. Brine, of course, serves the oyster farm's Rappannock, Stingray, and Olde Salt oysters ($2.50) as well as other east and west coast varieties ($3 each). Read more Brine Opens Today With Rotisserie Fish Heads and Plankton Pasta

D.C. Robbed at the James Beard Awards

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Not a single D.C. restaurant or chef won a James Beard award during last night's ceremony in Chicago. Two locals were among the final nominees: Bread Furst's Mark Furstenberg was up for a Outstanding Baker, and Toki Underground's Erik Bruner-Yang was in the running for Rising Star Chef of the Year. Both left empty handed.

The District was particularly slighted in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category where not a single D.C. chef even made the final five. In years past, D.C. talent has dominated the category. The award ultimately went just a brief road trip away to Woodberry Kitchen's Spike Gjerde.

Why no love for D.C.? Washingtonian critic (and Y&H alum) Todd Kliman talked to a number of prominent food critics, anonymously, about their perceptions of the city's food scene. And while they describe it as "growing" and "improving," they knock it for the perceived lack of culinary identity. The majority wouldn't even place the District in the top 10 American food cities.

"D.C.’s identity as the country’s political epicenter far overshadows its restaurant reputation," one anonymous food writer told Kliman.

"D.C. in the minds of food lovers remains a place where great restaurants are seen as an event rather than an expectation," another (again anonymous) critic said.

Whatever, anonymous outsiders. There's always next year. Sometimes it pays to be the underdog.

Find the full list of James Beard winners here.

Photo via the James Beard Foundation

Last Night’s Leftovers: Cinco de Mayo Edition

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Where to celebrate Cinco de Mayo [Washingtonian]

D.C.'s 10 most under-appreciated restaurants [Thrillist]

Chef Frederik De Pue and his former partners settle lawsuits. [Post]

Where to sip micheladas in D.C. [Eater]

Sudhouse replacing Bistro La Bonne on U Street NW [PoPville]

D.C. now regulates boozy cupcakes. [DCist]

Taste test of Veloce [BYT]

Photo from Fuego Cocina y Tequileria by Scott Suchman

Veloce Opens Today With Breakfast Pizzas

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Among the most underrated of pizzas is the breakfast pizza. No, not the kind from the night before reheated in the microwave because you ran out of cereal. I'm talking about scrambled egg- and applewood smoked bacon-topped pies. This oft-neglected offering is now available as early as 7 a.m. at Veloce, the latest entrant in the fast-casual pizza game.

Veloce, which offers brick oven-fired personal-sized pizzas, comes from Pizzeria Paradiso owner Ruth Gresser. The restaurateur of 20-plus years aims to mimic the Neapolitan-style pies served at her Dupont, Alexandria, and Georgetown restaurants with a custom-designed oven from Belsville, Md.-based Marra Forni that can cook up to 25 pizzas at a time.

The five-inch breakfast pizzas cost $5 each. (My only quibble: All the eggs in the a.m. are scrambled, not over-easy.) There are also breakfast calzones and a "pocket" stuffed with smoked salmon, herbed mascarpone, cherry tomatoes, capers, and red onion. Compass Coffee supplies a dose of caffeine. Read more Veloce Opens Today With Breakfast Pizzas

Another App That Charges for Prime Restaurant Reservations Launches in D.C. Today

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Want a last-minute reservation at a popular restaurant at 8 p.m. on a Friday? D.C. now has two apps for that—if you're willing to pay.

San Francisco-based Table8 launched here in January, offering otherwise unavailable tables at trendy spots like Minibar, Kapnos, and Fiola Mare to anyone willing to cough up $20 to $50 for a two-top.

Today, one of the service's competitors, Resy, is launching in D.C. The New York-based app functions similarly to Table8: If the dining room isn't full, you can book a table for free, just like OpenTable. But when seats become scarce, a reservation fee of up to $25 per person goes into effect. (All tables are free for the next two weeks.) Resy will partner with about 15 local restaurants to start, including Rural Society, Mintwood Place, Sushi Taro, Tosca, and Peter Chang in Arlington. Some places like Doi Moi and Estadio are on both Resy and Table8. All of Resy's reservations are confirmed via text message.  Read more Another App That Charges for Prime Restaurant Reservations Launches in D.C. Today

Last Night’s Leftovers: D.C.’s Food Identity Edition

IMG_2313Food critics from around the country weigh in (anonymously) on D.C.'s food scene. [Washingtonian]

Where to find the best tacos around D.C. [Drink DC]

The Trump hotel will get a restaurant from Geoffrey Zakarian. [Eater]

100 Montaditos closes in Rosslyn. [ARLnow]

Photo tour of Lapis Afghan Bistro [BYT]

Pie Five Pizza Co. is coming to Tenleytown. [PoPville]

Rasika West End does brunch. [Post]

Photo by Jessica Sidman

District Winery Coming to Navy Yard

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It looks like D.C. could be getting its first winery. A "multipurpose facility" called District Winery has applied for a liquor license at 385 Water St. SE. An Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration notice says the place is looking to have 450 seats (with a total capacity for 750) plus dancing, a 100-seat summer garden, and a wine pub.

It appears that the winery comes from the people behind Brooklyn Winery in New York. (The LLC behind District Winery is registered with Brooklyn Winery's Williamsburg address.) Y&H has contacted Brooklyn Winery for more information. Stay tuned for updates.

Photo via Shutterstock

D.C.’s Latest Hybrid Dessert: Cake Push Pops

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Cronut mania begat an entire genre of franken-desserts. The latest icing-topped monster is a cross between a cake pop and a push-pop: the cake push-pop. Fueled by the popularity of baking experiments on InstagramHaley Raphael, along with her boyfriend Jesse Mates, launched Pops by Haley in November as a part-time venture. The business has now expanded to a full-time operation working out of Union Kitchen. In addition to catering events, Pops by Haley hosts a number of one-off pop-ups, sells the products online, and will have a presence at Union Kitchen Grocery, opening Monday.

Raphael, who previously worked at the corporate offices of Sweetgreen, was inspired by the Flintstones ice cream push-pops of her youth. "I'm a huge nostalgic '90s fan," she says. She touts the fact that, unlike cupcakes, they're easier to transport and less likely to leave your fingers covered in sprinkles and frosting. "You can eat it with one hand and hold your drink in the other," she says.

The pops come in flavors chocolate peanut butter, birthday cake, cookies and cream, s'mores, and red velvet. Raphael also has a line of alcohol-infused flavors including a margarita pop with vanilla cake and tequila-lime frosting and another vanilla pop with Champagne buttercream frosting. Just don't expect to get drunk—each boozy pop contains less than 5 percent alcohol. For events, Raphael will offer custom flavors and labels as well as DIY cake push-pop making stations. The standard flavors cost $39 a dozen, and the alcohol infused ones are $43. At Union Kitchen Grocery, a single pop will go for $5.

Although she's focusing exclusively on cake push-pops for now, Raphael is looking to add other desserts to her product line.

"I hope to become the next Baked by Melissa or Dominique Ansel big dessert craze," she says. "I hope I'm headed in the right direction."

Photo courtesy Pops by Haley

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