Young and Hungry

Get Biscuit Gelato Sandwiches From Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. and Dolcezza This Weekend

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Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. will make its public debut with a pop-up this Saturday and Sunday at Dolcezza’s Union Market factory. Expect to find biscuit sandwiches with stuffings like Benton’s bacon, fried egg, cheddar, and maple aioli as well as fried chicken, bacon, honey, and cayenne. The menu will also include biscuits with various spreads like stone fruit and herb jam and hazelnut honey butter—plus sides like collards and macaroni salad. (Main dishes will go for $4.50 to $8 and sides will cost $2.) Chase it down with sweet tea and blueberry thyme lemonade.

The Union Market pop-up will go from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. During that time, you can also get some southern gelato and sorbet flavors like blackberries and cream, sweet corn, and yellow peach Southern Comfort. Dolcezza and Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. also collaborated on a sundae—or “copetta”—with sweet corn gelato, black raspberry jam, and biscuits. You can also have it served as a biscuit ice cream sandwich. Take that, doughnut ice cream sandwich.

Founders Ayesha Abuelhiga, Mo Cherry, and chef Jason Gehring are in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a Petworth pop-up which will eventually lead to a permanent establishment. So far, they’ve raised slightly more than $12,000 toward their $27,500 goal.

Photo via Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.

Last Night’s Leftovers: Maple Edition

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Maple launches Saturday brunch with expanded dining room coming soon. [PoPville]

The eight most insanely unhealthy restaurant meals in America [BuzzFeed]

Where to find the best sliders in D.C. [Zagat]

Andrew Zimmern will headline Strathmore's Appetite Festival [Express]

Try the deep fried deviled eggs at Rustico. [NoVa Mag]

The $20 Diner visits Richmond. [Post]

How to order a pizza from a nuclear command bunker [NPR]

Photo by Jessica Sidman

What $1 Million Bought The Oval Room

IMG_5558When The Oval Room reopens Monday after a $1 million facelift, some of the tables will continue to be covered with white tablecloths and some will bare polished wood. And that seems to capture the new direction that owner Ashok Bajaj is going with his 20-year-old restaurant. He wants to continue to attract the VIPs and politicos who are accustomed to such fine dining touches and have made the restaurant one of the top "power spots" in the city. But he also wants a more modern space with a bar scene that's going to attract a new and younger generation of diners.

The Oval Room was last renovated a decade ago, and as the lease approached expiration this year, Bajaj debated whether to renew. Ultimately, he decided to drop some big bucks into revamping the place. "There's nothing old here in the restaurant. Nothing," he says. New York-based restaurant designer Martin Vahtra, who also designed Rasika West End and NoPa Kitchen + Bar, has decorated the place with Carrera marble on the entryway floors, mahogany wood accents, and art from artist Jennifer Bartlett on the walls. Even the kitchen has new equipment. Read more What $1 Million Bought The Oval Room

Three Unexpected Places for Must-Try Soft-Serve

foodgraze_31aSome of the best soft-serve in D.C. isn't found at places that specialize in frozen treats. A few top D.C. chefs are putting their own flourishes on the summertime staple with flavors like rose water and toppings like wasabi peas. Here are three restaurants where you'll want to stay for dessert.

Daikaya
705 6th St. NW
The ramen shop and izakaya recently introduced a vanilla soft-serve that comes with three topping choices: Calpico-yogurt sauce with crushed wasabi peas and crispy chocolate balls; avocado-yuzu sauce with toasted coconut; or ichimi pepper-chocolate sauce with toasted hazelnuts. Read more Three Unexpected Places for Must-Try Soft-Serve

Remixology: Make Us a Drink With Jasmine Flower Confit

remix_31Bartender: Ian Shores

Where: Vapiano, 623-625 H St. NW

Mystery Ingredient: Confit of jasmine flowers (available at Dean & Deluca or online)

Bartender Response: Shores unscrewed the tiny jar of jasmine jelly with trepidation. “I was a little taken aback, especially when I opened it up and there were actually flowers in there,” he said. “It smells really good, though.”

What We Got: A summertime thirst quencher with citrus vodka, prosecco, and muddled strawberries and rosemary. “I wanted it to have a little bubbly fizz to it.”

How It Tasted: Very mellow. We liked the hint of woodsy pine from the rosemary to toughen up the sweetness of the jasmine and strawberry. “The smell and the flavor of [the jasmine confit] had an elderflower feel to it,” said Shores, who thought it reminded him of St-Germain liqueur. Read more Remixology: Make Us a Drink With Jasmine Flower Confit

Are You Gonna Eat That? Eat The Rich’s Eel and Snakehead Pies

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The Dish: Eel Pie/Snakehead Fish Pie

Where to Get It: Eat The Rich, 1839 7th St. NW; (202) 316-9396; etrbar.com

Price: $15

What It Is: A palm-sized pie filled with filleted and smoked Chesapeake eels, plus forcemeat made from the eel trimmings, button mushrooms, peas, and summer savory. When eels aren’t available—because fishermen nab them to use as bait to catch striped bass—chef Julien Shapiro instead uses snakehead fish, an invasive species that tastes somewhat like sturgeon. Both versions of the pie are served with “Harvey’s Sauce,” a condiment made from button and chanterelle mushroom catsup, 3 Stars Citra & Lemon Peel Saison, vinegar, and anchovies.

What It Tastes Like: After a few bites, you’ll be saying “suck it” to chicken pot pie until the end of time. That’s because the eel filling is as smoky as a campfire, a little creamy, and somehow not too dense. First-time eel eaters may feel squishy about the texture, but it’s nothing the buttery crust and savory dipping sauce won’t fix.  Read more Are You Gonna Eat That? Eat The Rich’s Eel and Snakehead Pies

Last Night’s Leftovers: Gypsy Soul Opens Edition

Chef RJ Cooper opens Gypsy Soul in Mosaic District. [Washingtonian]

Former Barmini bartender Devin Gong to open Copycat Co. cocktail bar on H Street NE. [WBJ]

Tom Sietsema gives Barcelona Wine Bar 1.5 stars. [Post]

Granite City Food & Brewery is coming to National Harbor. [Eater]

Capital Bikeshare members get a free bowl from ShopHouse every Sunday in August. [PoPville]

Five Restaurant Week tables to book right now [Zagat]

How to make marijuana-infused craft cocktails [VICE]

They’re on a Boat: D.C.’s Latest Mobile Food Vendors Are Going Nautical

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I want to order some ice cream, but I’m drifting away with the current. “WHAT FLAVORS DO YOU HAVE?” I shout over the lawn mower–like hum of the generator aboard Nauti Foods, the Potomac River’s new food purveyor. I clumsily paddle forward, then backward, before the cheery, sun-tanned crew points out a rope I can cling to as I exchange $4 for a Dolcezza blackberries and cream push-pop. Sitting in a kayak just upstream from the Key Bridge is absolutely the most ridiculous way I’ve ever ordered an artisanal gelato.

The 24-foot pontoon boat has all kinds of other snacks, too: ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, granola bars, chips, coconut water, sodas, Pellegrino, and hot dogs grilled onboard. Nauti Foods is so trendy it even has New York–style bagels from the much-hyped Bullfrog Bagels pop-up and vegan cookies from Sticky Fingers. A long white board advertises “today’s menu,” but it’s a little bit difficult to read unless you’re right up close. Such are the drawbacks of the paddle-thru.

My cold treat is threatening to melt onto my life jacket, but I can’t beat the setting for a Saturday afternoon snack. I try not to drop my paddle in the water as I dig into my gelato and stuff the Nauti Foods temporary tattoos they handed me into my pocket. When I’m done, I dispose of the plastic push-pop in a white Nauti Foods-branded plastic bag with a carabiner to hook onto my kayak. (That way, no trash will end up in the river.)

Nauti Foods is D.C.’s first-ever food boat, or floating food truck, depending on what you want to call this new breed of mobile eatery. The vendor vessel, which launched last weekend, is captained by couple Ari Fingeroth and Tammar Berger. He owns a small home-remodeling company, and she consults with the World Bank and co-owns U Street NW’s Off Road Indoor Cycling. “We’re doing this as a side thing to entertain us and hopefully fill a void on the river,” Fingeroth explains. The duo plans to hit the water every Friday through Sunday until mid-September. By next summer, they expect other food-slinging ships will follow in their wake.  Read more They’re on a Boat: D.C.’s Latest Mobile Food Vendors Are Going Nautical

Gut Reaction: Daikaya’s Cold Ramen Is All About the Noodles

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After some delays, Daikaya's cold ramen finally made it onto the menu a couple weeks ago. The debut of the summer dish took a little longer than expected after one of the key ingredients—tare (or sauce) that flavors the broth—was held up by the Food and Drug Administration en route from Japan. The tare was custom-made for Daikaya by Nishiyama Seimen Company, which also produces its ramen noodles.

The wait was worth it, though, because the cold ramen trumps the hot stuff on a warm summer day. I stopped by for lunch earlier and opted for the spicy sesame version at the recommendation of the bartender. (You can also choose a soy-based broth.) The noodles are boiled and chilled to order and served in a shallow pool of liquid rather than submerged like a soup. They come topped with chashu (thinly sliced pork), nitamago egg, corn, cucumber, kombu, cherry tomatoes, bean sprouts, arugula, carrots, ginger, and shredded nori. There's also a vegetarian version with marinated mushrooms rather than pork (which the bartender said was his favorite—even as a meat-eater).

The advantage of the cold noodles is that they don't get soggy and soft like they do if you don't slurp them down fast enough in a hot ramen soup. Instead, the texture is pleasantly chewy and al dente. And as co-owner Daisuke Utagawa points out, you can actually taste the distinct flavor of the noodles when they're served this way. Sadly, due to kitchen-space limitations, the only time you'll be able to try this $14 bowl is weekdays during lunch in the second-floor izakaya (not the ramen shop). Read more Gut Reaction: Daikaya’s Cold Ramen Is All About the Noodles

PETA Recognizes….Ben’s Chili Bowl?

DSC00388Ben's Chili Bowl is basically one giant ode to meat. It smells like meat. Meat on the grill is the first thing you see when you walk on the door. Hell, it's the home of the half-smoke. So it might seem a little strange that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—whose motto contains the phrase "animals are not ours to eat"—decided to recognize the shop's new airport location for its "Best of Reagan Award." The new accolade honors Ben's for offering things like vegetarian chili, dogs, and burgers...but really?

Really. PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt explains that the organization wants to give cred to restaurants that make an effort to be partially meat-free, not just all-vegetarian joints.

So why of all the restaurants in the city, many of which have far more vegetarian offerings, did this meat palace win the award? "This award deals specifically with the best of Reagan Washington Airport, and so we're recognizing Ben's Chili Bowl because they just opened this brand new spot last week," Rajt says. "Of course, there are other vegetarian and vegan options in the airport, but Ben's is really taking it up a notch."

Rajt says she personally is also a fan of Ben's. "It is definitely a favorite and a place I make sure to take all my family and friends when they visit the District."

This is not the first time PETA has bestowed its approval upon a meat-centric restaurant. Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan got a nod for its vegan wings as part of PETA's round-up of the top 10 vegan wings in the country.

Photo courtesy PETA

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