Monthly Archives: December 2012

District of Col-YUM-bia: Where to Eat in D.C

Washington is, surprisingly, a foodie’s heaven. If you look past the Starbucks on every corner and avoid the ever-tempting Chipotle (I’m a recent guacamole convert) you can find a wealth of independent coffee shops and amazing one-of-a-kind restaurants to help you pile on the pounds in true US style.

Here’s my guide to lunch, brunch, dinner and more…

Brunch:

Busboys and Poets (several locations but go for either 5th & K or 14th & V); an eclectic relaxed café that’s full of artistic types who flock to the poetry readings and French toast (I assume.) Great prices and a classic brunch menu.

Go for the….Classic Eggs Benedict with a side of grits

Market Lunch (inside Eastern Market); Eastern market is the perfect Sunday hang out- its food market is full of fresh, well-priced produce and right next door to a flea market rammed with treasures and hand-made items. It’s also round the corner from one of the best second hand book shops in the city. Market Lunch is tucked in the corner of the indoor market and perfect for a mid-morning brunch or later lunch.

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Go for the…. “Brick” sandwich for brunch (but take a friend to finish it off) or the crab cake sandwich for lunch, with a side of fried green tomatoes.

Lunch:

The Well Dressed Burrito (1220 19th St NW) Literally in an alleyway and so extremely hard to miss but if you stumble upon this gem of a lunch spot you’re in for a real treat. Prices are cheap and portions are obesity-crisis sized. The seating here is extremely limited seen as its essentially based in an office, but don’t let the unorthodox style put you off, the food is incredible.

Go for the…Chimichangas. Apparently there’s nothing more amusing that hearing that word in an English accent. The Mexican Bread Pudding is also a very good shout.

DC Bread and Brew (1247 20th St NW) Cute little coffee shop/bar/lunch place. Also next door to a pretty good Jewish deli (happy Chanukah guys and girls)

Go for the… half-soup-half sandwich option to save calories and money.

Besthesda Bagels (1718 Connecticut Ave NW) I could pretty much write an entire post about this place. If you’ve learnt anything from reading my sister’s blog its that Morans heart bread, we heart it big time. And bagels are the doughnuts of the bread world. Literally. Bethesda bagels are the best in the city and, in my opinion, even give New York bagels a run for their money. I started off buying the stuffed bagel sandwiches but that much carbs makes me sleepy so now I find myself addicted to the Pumpernickel bagel with cream cheese (they have a great non-dairy range) They have over 20 different flavours of bagel, and I won’t rest until I try them all. It’s also a couple of doors down from my favourite knitting shop  and across from my work  (plug intended)

Go for the….I’m not going to suggest anything, instead I suggest everything.

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Sweetgreen (1901 L St NW) A chain salad bar, much the same as Chop’t, but perfect for when you’re feeling the bread-guilt and need a healthy option.

Go for the… Santorini salad, only 400 calories.

Dinner:

Ben’s Chili Bowl: (1213 U St NW) Well, just read this for all you need to know. American food at its finest.

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Etete (1942 9th St NW) Whilst I didn’t intend to go to America to eat Ethiopian food sometimes stuff like that just happens, and I’m glad it did. I have no idea what I ordered, ate, or even whether I actually ended up paying my bill before leaving but it was a whole bunch of delicious.

Go for the… just chance it.

Drinks:

The Big Hunt: (1345 Connecticut Ave NW) Happy Hour’s 4pm-7pm, with $2.50 beer and $3 rail drinks. Monday is free pool and half price pizza night!

Café Citron: (1343 Connecticut Ave NW) Happy Hour’s 4.30pm-7pm with money off the entire drinks menu. The weekend crowd is lively and the Latino music is great fun.

Board Room (1737 Connecticut Ave. NW) Happy Hour’s 4pm-7pm with $4 wine and $4 Rail Cocktails. The real draw of this place is huge array of board games to play with- why talk to people when you can beat them at Hungry Hungry Hippos instead.

The Mighty Pint (1831 M St NW) Apply online and you can pretty easily win a free happy hour (5pm-6pm on a Thursday) for you and your friends, for free, really. A real American bar with real Americans in it. Lovely.

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Looking Glass Lounge (3634 Georgia Ave NW) Nice outdoor beer garden and good drink choice, best of all its within stumbling distance of the metro (and my house.)

Class dismissed.

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Chestnut Brownies and another Cake Date.

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I have never roasted Chestnuts before. I know its a christmas traditions, well its part of a christmas song so it must be a big deal. But I have never done it before. So when I came across Dan Lepard’s Chestnut Brownie recipe that used pre-cooked Chestnuts I decided it was only fitting that I went the whole hog and roasted them myself, and it surprisingly wasn’t as laborious as I had envisaged. I did however, massively undercook the brownie mixture. I intended to double the recipe, and knew this would mean an extended cooking time, but clearly I didn’t add enough time. They tasted great, and the chestnuts and rum were a great addition, but they were hard to cut into pieces and didn’t retain their shape well at all. But you live and learn, and I will definitely try this recipe again (perhaps after christmas when the price of chestnuts have gone down!)

Chestnut Brownies (adapted from Dan Lepard)

Ingredients;

400g chestnutsIMG_0614
200g brown sugar
25ml dark rum
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 medium eggs, separated
200g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate, broken into small chunks
100g plain flour

Method;

To roast the chestnuts; cut cross shapes into the base of the chestnut in order to pierce the skin, this will mean steam will not get trapped in when they cook. Place on a roasting tray and cook at  200C /gas mark 6 for 30 mins, until the chestnut inside is soft. Leave to cool, remove the skins and cut into small pieces.

1)Line a deep, 20cm square tin with nonstick baking paper. In a bowl mix the chestnut pieces with 100g sugar, rum and vanilla.

2) In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft white peaks, slowly beat in 100g sugar until you have a soft meringue, then beat in the egg yolks. To ensure your bowl is clean and grease free, rub a lemon and dry with a paper towel.

3) Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, then remove from the heat and beat into the chestnuts and flour. Stir this into the meringue, then spoon into the prepared tin. Bake at 170C (150C fan-assisted)/335F/gas mark 3 for 20-25 minutes, until barely set in the middle, then leave to cool completely in the tin before cutting.

To make it a little festive I made a stencil out of paper in the shape of a snowflake and dusted icing sugar over, after all, its the closest thing you’d find in your kitchen to snow!

Cake Date Tuesdays

I am a little behind on my blogging, so a whole week has gone by since we visited French Fancies! This week’s cake date again took place in New Town. This time we headed to The Bakehouse on Broughton Street. It was rainy and miserable, and reasonably late in the day for cake, but that meant we had the run of the place and the full attention of the staff who were extremely friendly and helpful (not to mention enthusiastic, having made the products themselves they were more than happy to recommend their favourites). I settled for a chilli hot chocolate, perfect for a cold and dismal day, and we halved a scone and a lime and coconut slice. The coconut slice was crumbly, tangy and had a delicious icing. It was also the largest slice I have ever eaten, practically needing it’s own table. The scone was light, fluffy and lacked the bitter bicarbonate of soda aftertaste that some of its counterparts fall victim to. It’s a beautiful shop, conveniently located and very inexpensive, I thoroughly recommend you visit.

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Buckwheat Cookies, Food Blogs and Cake Dates.

Trawling through food blogs is my biggest procrastination method. I spend, on average, an hour a day clicking through recipes and tantalising photographs, bookmarking as I go. My reading list  has more recipes saved than I could cook in a lifetime. My current favourite blog is a fellow wordpress user by the name of the little loaf. It’s packed full of bread, cake and cookie recipes as well as some hearty meals, all accompanied with beautiful photographs and informative tips. A recipe of their’s struck my fancy a few weeks a go using buckwheat flour, something I have never cooked with before. Buckwheat flour is gluten free and, having an increasing number of gluten-free friends, is definitely an ingredient I should incorporate more into my cooking and baking. Much like thelittleloaf my attitude toward cookie recipes is fickle at the best of times. After a few harrowing experiences of biscuity or cakey cookies, I was reticent to try again. But in the past year I have experimented with many great recipes, and my interest has grown to the extent that I now profess a new love for a different recipe each time. But, for now at least, I will be sticking with thelittleloaf’s Buckwheat Cookies, the brown butter adds a further dimension to the nutty flavour and the perfect balance of sugar, flour and fat makes for chewy and beautifully crinkly looking biscuits!

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After months of missing the mark with cookies, I did some research to find out what individual ingredients within the recipe did, in an attempt to correct my many catastrophes and the following is what I have learnt:

Sugar- The more sugar you add the thinner, and subsequently crispier, your cookies will be. This is because the sugar will melt, and it it makes up the majority of the recipe will leave you will flat cookies as they spread in the heat. If you use Brown sugar, the cookies will be chewier, as it absorbs more moisture.

Eggs- If you add too many eggs your cookies will be more like cakes. I try to avoid putting more than one egg in per a batch. I liked thelittleloaf’s recipe as it had one egg and one yolk, this extra yolk makes the mixture richer.

Baking soda-  makes the cookies rise, which is essential, but too much can leave them with an unfortunate after taste.

Another food british food blog I adore is The Cake Hunter.Her current posts about christmas foodie gifts are brilliant, I can’t wait to get my exams over and done with so I can try out a few of them. I also appreciate her blog as she shares a similar taste in chefs, including Irish food blogger, tv chef, and all round dreamboat Donal Skehan. Following her recommendation I will definitely be baking a swedish apple cake; the recipe looks simple and has very few ingredients, but the outcome is beautiful and the cake looks ridiculously moorish!

Finally, myself and my fellow baker and flatmate have started a new tradition, Cake Date Tuesdays. It’s our final year at University (in the very beautiful city of Edinburgh) and seems such a waste not to sample its culinary delights before we depart post graduation. Edinburgh is full of tiny tea shops, bakeries and patisseries. Yes we do have chain (and in my opinion, mundane)  bakeries and coffee shops , like the vastly underwhelming Patiserrie Valerie, but we also have a plethora of individual and offbeat eateries each more quirky than the last, it is these fine establishments we intended to dine at every Tuesday. We started off with a trip to Lovecrumb , with slabs of cake larger than your face. Last week’s cake date we spent in New Town, on recommendation from a friend, at French Fancies. Its a small, hidden, french patisserie, and is well worth searching for! We had a choux bun which was filled with the greatest vanilla cream I have ever tasted as well as a delectable dark chocolate tart.

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