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Capital Food Fight Always Knocks Me Out – Round 2

November 12th, 2013 • No Comments

Foodie Celebrity Alert..

Yes, I went to my 2nd round at Capital Food Fight in Washington, D.C. at the Ron Reagan Building on Monday, November 11th, 2013. Getting to taste 60+ chefs, hobnobbing with Celebrity Chefs like Carla Hall, and Jose Andres and just soaking in the restaurant/hospitality way of life is such a treat!

2013-11-11 18.59.562013-11-11 19.38.56This annual extraganza raises $100,000s of dollars for DC Central Kitchen and also has the added benefit of raising the profile of Washington, D.C. as a True Foodie City – we always appreciate the added push! What really fascinates me about these mega-restaurant promotional events is there really isn’t one kind of crowd that attends – there are the diverse interests of DC from Lobbiests with clients, to Foodies/Restaurant people who either produce/make the dishes or are somehow connected with the industry. It’s definitely a schmoozerama, but it’s also a chance to meet some of the Big Name out of town chefs/celebrities like Tom Colicchio from Top Chef, Rick Bayless, Todd English, Art Smith and Battling Chefs Erik Bruner-Yang, Bertrand Chemel, Spike Gjerde and Anthony Lombardo.2013-11-11 20.21.232013-11-11 18.53.04
Dishes I Loved:

-Smoked Oyster Dish with Lamb Bacon by Beuchert’s Saloon – 3 reasons: smoke, oysters and bacon (in this case from the lamb neck!) – gets points for originality, interesting blend of sea/land and of course tastyness!

-Pulpo’s creative Shrimp Ceviche – I actually thought it was lobster and it had Aquavit in it – so booze and seafood combined!

-Farmer’s Fishers Crab Bisque – I’m not sure if that’s the name of the dish, but it had tons of crab in it – sweet!

-Slider from PJ Clarke’s – so lowbrow – Love It!

And many more..

2013-11-11 18.20.04Kudo’s to the Bloomery Plantation folks who allowed me (Illegally – Press was denigrated to the regular $250 Riff-Raff fold..) into the Chairman’s Double-Secret VIP area upstairs where I had their great cocktails, a wonderful 25 year old XO Cognac and got to hang with Carla Hall and Jose Andres before I decided that I actually wanted to taste the dishes downstairs!

And the Winner of the Battling Chef Competition: Spike Gjerde, Woodberry Kitchen!

Ohh, and purely for SEO, here’s the list of Restaurants that participated: 1789
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Al Tiramisu
Ambar
Airlie Center
Art & Soul
BLT Steak
Bar Charley
Barmini
Bastille
Béarnaise
Belga Café / Btoo
Beuchert’s Saloon
Blue Duck Tavern
Boqueria
Carmine’s
Cava/Sugo Osteria
Charlie Palmer Steak
Chipotle
Cuba Libre
Del Campo
Delia’s
Dolci Gelati
Dolcezza Gelato
Eat the Rich
Entyse
Equinox / Salamander Resort
Farmers Fishers
Founding Farmers
Fujimar
Good Stuff Eatery
Gordon Biersch
Granville Moore
Gristmill
Hank’s Oyster Bar
Hill Country BBQ
Ici Urban Bistro
Indique
J&G Steakhouse
Jackson 20 / The Grille at Morrison House
Jaleo
Kapnos
Kaz Sushi Bistro
Lebanese Taverna
Le Diplomate
Lia’s
Lincoln
MXDC Restaurant
Mandu
Maketto
Matchbox
Mint Gastropub by Malcolm Mitchell
Nick’s River Side Grill
Osteria Elisir
Oyamel
PJ Clarke’s
Ping Pong Dim Sum
Pizzeria Orso
Policy
Pulpo
Rappahannock River Oysters
Ris
Santa Lucia Coffee
Sonoma
Sticky Fingers
Taberna del Alabardero Restaurant
Taco Bamba
Table
Teddy and the Bully Bar
The Majestic
The Source
Toki Underground
Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place
Trummer’s on Main
Vermilion
Vidalia
Vinoteca
Westend Bistro
Willow
Woodberry Kitchen
Zengo

Virginia Gets Epic – Epicurience Food and Wine Festival

September 2nd, 2013 • No Comments

A Wine & Food Festival Two Hundred Years in the Making..

Epicurience .. So what makes a wine and food festival a great experience? Well to start, it should have the participation of lot’s of great wineries and Epicurience – dubbed as A food and wine experience so epic, in fact, that we’re calling it something completely new – had a great turnout of Virginia wineries and wines.

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Picture a food and wine festival so unique that no existing name quite fit.

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Held in the East Coast’s premier wine region, Loudoun, Virginia: DC’s Wine Country.

It’s where insiders come to savor award-winning wines and seek out noteworthy farm-to-table cuisine.

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Taste the finest in Virginia wines, meet top tastemakers and master winemakers, sample cuisine prepared by celebrated chefs from around the country.
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Epicurience on TasteDC – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Bacon + Beer at 918 F St.

July 10th, 2013 • No Comments

Whole Lotta Bacon..

2013-07-08 20.41.12I really enjoyed myself Monday night at 918 F St (Living Social) for a tasty pairing of two of my favorites: bacon and beer! 918 F Street in Washington, D.C. is quite a facility – 5 floors each with one or two rooms for cooking, mixing drinks or other events – it’s a pretty happening event space with literally thousands of people going through every month (maybe every week!).2013-07-08 20.29.01 The speaker for this event – Bacon + Beer – really knew his stuff – Jesse Raines, Beverage Director at VSLS, Living Social (but his card lists him also as “Speakeasy Manager”). Very simple setup: we sat at white table-clothed tables and were given a very explanatory tasting sheet with 4 beers and a selection of 3 bacons (two slices of each – way more than needed!) and finally at the end the chocolate covered bacon was put out separately (I assume to keep the chocolate from melting – it was served slightly chilled).
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Four Bacon Tastings with matching beers (and my comments):

• Honey Chipotle-Glazed Bacon with Abita Amber Lager
This was a very good pairing – The Abita Amber Lager is a Session beer with relatively low alcohol and has just a hint of honey which helped it go with the sweetness of the bacon’s glaze. Actually, the Abita pretty much went with every bacon – except for the chocolate covered..

• Espresso-Glazed Bacon with Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
Delicious Beer (10% ABV!), great bacon with big coffee/hickory flavors, but the pairing didn’t work – simple reason: the Stout is a Big Beer with loads of alcohol and chocolate/coffee intense flavor (actually has no chocolate in it!) and there just wasn’t any synergy. I would have paired the Stout with something chocolate like cake and maybe even a scoop of vanilla ice cream which would cool down the heat of this beer..Some beers were meant to be drunk alone though!firestonewalkerwookyjackblackryeale

• Sriracha-Glazed Bacon with Firestone Walker Wookey Jack Black Ale
I hate to overuse the word “awesome” but this bacon was AWESOME!! The prior two bacons were hickory-smoked, while this one was apple-smoked and the bacon was more juicy/fatty/srirachi! Yum and yum, this bacon rocked! The big difference in this beer is noticeable hops and a slight rye whiskey flavor (so a spicy/smokyness..) which came from aging in rye barrels. This was a very good pairing with alot of complexity from smoke to hot Sriracha, from hops to saltiness..alot going on which is fun in your mouth!

• Chocolate and Sea Salt-Dipped Bacon with Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter
This was some rich dark bittersweet chocolate – I mean I actually tasted more of the chocolate than the bacon! Nice pairing – it was on the rich side with chocolate, bacon and “Imperial” Porter (BTW – Jesse mentioned that “Imperial” added to a craft beer title pretty much just means high in alcohol!) and of course my palate was coated with a nice bacon fat/hops/maltiness, so it takes some strong flavors to come through.2013-07-08 21.06.55

We ended the evening with a fifth tasting in the Speakeasy (my Bad – I forget the name of the beer!) and I had a couple of Whistlepig Whiskeys to clear my head, and all was good in the world – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Upcoming Beer Events on TasteDC:

-Belgian Restaurant Week’s Mussel Throw Down and Blind-folded Beer Tasting at Eastern Market (Saturday, July 20th, 2013)

-Artists & Artisans Summer Celebration at 3 Stars Brewery, Washington, D.C. (Sunday, July 28th, 2013)

-Drink the District: Beer Edition (Saturday and Sunday, July 27th and 28th)

 

Video: Venezuela: Arepera Guacuco

July 7th, 2013 • No Comments

These two women – Kate Thorman and Nora Chovanec of Abbott & West Productions – seem to have alot of fun traveling, filming and eating their way through countries – this video is from their “The Innocents Abroad” Series:

How to Create “Event Frustration”

June 23rd, 2013 • No Comments

There is nothing more frustrating..

Who’s on First, What’s on Second..you know that frustrating feeling – all you want to do is attend an event that you found on some webpage/flyer/friend mentioned and you..can’t find the details! OK, so you’re not desperate to find out about that cooking class, wine dinner or some other event, but you just wanna know – is it going to happen on a given date (maybe the chef looks good or it’s the perfect “date night” or you’ve always wanted to learn how to mix Rum cocktails..), what’s the price (does it include tax and tip?) and can they accomodate your situation (are there “gluten-free” options, is it vegetarian-friendly..and BTW, what does that mean?).

As a person making a living following food and drink events, it is VERY frustrating for me to find an event and not be able to get clear details – Ugghhhh!! So rather than point the fnger at any Event Organizer, I’m going to tell all Events people how to make your customer – FRUSTRATED TO THE POINT OF BOILING OVER..hopefully you all have a sense of humor..

1) Sell Tickets to your event the Old School way – over the phone..

Diners make reservations for restaurants mostly online, so why would anyone want to call a human being and order tickets to your upcoming wine dinner? That phone call is going to be answered 90% of the time by voice mail, but when I do get a live person, the conversation is PAINFUL! The first most obvious question I ask is “are you holding this event, it’s not on your website?” (most likely I found it listed somewhere else on the internet)..then I get the pause..then I ask to confirm the date, menu, and price..again, I get the infinitely long pause. The worst reaction to my questions is the most likely to happen – the person on the phone puts me on hold and tries to FIND THE INFORMATION!

2) Don’t List the Event on Your Webpage

Or list the event on your Facebook Fan Page – yes, this is bad as well – why? Because a restaurant’s webpage is it’s pride and center of control, as it should be for any business. It’s not wrong to list an event on your Facebook Page, but at least include it as well on your website – even better, have your Fanpage link back to your website. Your website is your reputation..repeat, over and over, again and again..

 3) Leave Outdated Events on Your Website

Hey, Father’s Day is over – it’s one day/evening – so make sure you delete it from your page by the next day! I’ve seen events so old that I’m not even sure what year events posted are – nothing freaks a potential attendee out more than the thought that the event is a different year! And of course, then you call, and get the wonderful (sarcasm!) person on the other line..

List “Upcoming Events” and make sure they’re mostly (or only!) events that have occured in the past- I mean, you never know, somebody might like to see the skeleton of your events!

4) Make Sure to Forget at Least One Important Component of the Event

You won’t believe this – I guesstimate that 25% of all events posted on a restaurant website have at least one glaring error – the worst is wrong date, but I’ve seen where a multi-restaurant chain doesn’t list the location of the event, I’ve seen price missing (is tax and tip included, or is that added on later?), how to RSVP (or worse – the restaurant leaves an email or phone number to make the RSVP – would a consumer RSVP to book a reservation at your restaurant that way??), no time listed (just show up anytime!!) and often misleading information or missing information like a menu for a wine dinner.

5) When Answering Any Questions Relating to an Event, Be Evasive

Oh, you don’t believe a top-tier restaurant or hotel staff person could be condescending and lack important details on an upcoming event? Wrong! I’ve emailed and called the top restaurants to get details on their wine dinners – often, they snootily tell me that these wine dinners are only emailed to their “exclusive” email list..so should I not attend the event? And what if I am on that exclusive email list – how do I purchase a ticket..do I have to speak to this snooty person..and hope they answer my questions?

I hope you had fun reading this Post – it’s not meant to be mean or angry (a bit sarcastic — maybe!), but more to bring light to an easily solveable issue. Restaurants seem to act like their website isn’t important: menus that are downloaded as pdf’s, address and contact information missing, and usually extraneous scripts or images that clutter up the screen and actually frustrate the restaurant or event goer. Remember this – people who have money and dine out quite a bit, normally lack time – so use your restaurant website to maximize their time and get them to your place of business..it’s easier to upsell that dessert to someone who’s sitting in your restaurant’s seat – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Cilantro: Some Love It, Some Soap It!

May 17th, 2013 • No Comments

A friend of mine on Facebook Shana Glickfield recently posted that there are 2 kinds of people: those who like cilantro..and those who despise it!

I’m actually a person who didn’t originally like it because it reminded me of soap, but over time with the right dishes such as Latin and Mexican cuisine, I actually began to enjoy it – I even still get the soapy flavor and I’ve begun to love it, even look forward to it! I used to do cooking classes at Odeon Cafe in Washington, D.C. and the Moroccan owners actually preferred to make Italian cuisine with the North African influence of using cilantro in place of Italian parsley.

The video above is from Pro Chile and the two seafood dishes – 1 is a ceviche and the other is a shrimp with avocado sauce – both have tons of cilantro. I think the secret of enjoying cilantro is that it melds with other flavors and spices so well, but can be a bit overwhelming to the palate by itself – I can eat fresh parsley right off the stem, but not so much with cilantro – the latter does better with salt, sweet, sour and spicy flavors like vinegar, chiles, onions and ginger. Both Latin and Asian cuisines benefit from it’s herbal notes and that touch of soapiness!

OK, so you’re one of the people who doesn’t taste the “soapy” (or you just like the soapiness..)- here’s an additional article from the NY Times about how people taste and some of the instincts and survival background – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Taste of the Nation in DC 2013

April 22nd, 2013 • No Comments

Taste of the Nation is Always a Great Foodie Evening..
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I attended the 2013 Taste of the Nation at the National Building Museum and had a chance to catch up with many chefs and mixologists that I hadn’t seen in some time – well considering all the events in the Spring..I pretty much had seen most of them within a week or so! Seriously, these mega-chef events showcase culinary talent in a different setting from the traditional restaurant roll. Successfully serving small plates to 2,000+ people outside of your restaurant shows a talent for both intelligent food production and maximum PR for your establishment – you have to be good..2013-04-08 18.48.19

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Taste of the Nation 2013 – so many great chefs and restaurants – see below. Wonderful mix, check out the Gelato made with Limoncello, the lamb’s tongue, the great sliders and Adam Bernbach mixing it up..

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Monday April 8

Festivals
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
National Building Museum 401 F St., NW
Washington DC 20001
Categories: Multi-Chef
Join Us for Taste of the Nation 2013!
Taste of the Nation DC brings together the city’s best chefs, restaurants and mixologists who lend their time and talent to help raise the critical funds necessary to help ensure no kid goes hungry.  This year’s event will be held at on Monday, April 8, 2013 at the National Building Museum.  Culinary council members include Victor Albisu of Del Campo & Taco Bamba, Scott Drewno of The Source, Mike Isabella of Graffiato, Bandolero, & Kapnos, Nicholas Stefanelli of Bibiana and Bryan Voltaggio of Family Meal, Range, & Volt.  Additionally, Gina Chersevani of Hank’s on the Hill and Union Market will serve as the mixology chair.

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2013 Chef Council

Bryan Voltaggio – VOLT | Lunchbox | Range

Nicholas Stefanelli – Bibiana

Scott Drewno – The Source

Mike Isabella – Graffiato | Bandolero

Victor Albisu – Taco Bamba | Del Campo

 

2013 Sommelier Chair

Nadine Brown – Charlie Palmer Steak

2013 Mixology Chair

Gina Chersevani – Buffalo & Bergen

 

2013 Participating Restaurants

 

 

To learn more about becoming involved with Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation DC or receive additional information about future events by emailing DCTaste@gmail.com.
Taste of the Nation Washington DC promotes awareness of the critical issue of childhood hunger and Share Our Strength’s solutions to it.  More than 16 million children in America struggle with hunger. Since 1988, Taste of the Nation has raised more than $86 million for organizations in the United States, Canada and abroad, including more than $1.8 million in Washington, DC. Local beneficiaries are Capital Area Food Bank, DC Hunger Solutions and Mary’s Center, as well as Share Our Strength’s national No Kid Hungry campaign.

Cochon 555..My First Time!

April 8th, 2013 • No Comments

I Got My Piggy On..

Cochon 555 in DC..This event is not just about the Pig..it’s also about the drink, the chef, and the Foodie..maybe even the Foodie Groupie (did I make that up??)..

Mike Isabella, Graffiato/Bandolero

Mike Isabella, Graffiato/Bandolero

I attended my first Cochon 555 on Sunday, April 7th, 2013 and it was all that I expected and even more..More pig combinations,

Kyle Bailey, Birch & Barley

Kyle Bailey, Birch & Barley

More food, More drink, More.. well.. let’s just say this is a feast of the senses. In wine, we always say that you use all of your senses except for your sense of hearing – Cochon 555 must be heard as well! This event is the Rock n Roll of Tasting Events – personalities larger than life like Mike Isabella with salamis wrapped around his neck, chefs and students from L’Academie showcasing their passion for food, a butchering of a WHOLE PIG – yep..although, the innards had mostly been already removed, if you had never been to a slaughterhouse, this took you there minus the squeal!

Cochon 555 is a celebration of life – just as everyone must eat, some of us eat to fulfill our passion or maybe it IS our passion. If I was going to explain this event to someone from outer space, I would say that man was once a primitive animal that lived primarily in caves or on the savannah. Over a period of thousands of years, he formed civilization and started culture (she too!)..but the need to satisfy those primitive urges never disappeared – thus Cochon 555!

This Little Piggie..

This Little Piggie..

Heritage Pigs – well, ever since modern industry took over the majority of our food system, food has been “designed” to fit consumer lifestyles – thus was created the modern pig – it gets fat fast, needs little space to roam (or it may need it, but it doesn’t get it!) and it has lean meat..Why lean? We food consumers (actually, I should change that to “industrial pig consumers” – forgive me if you’re Vegan..) read a study in the 70′s that suggested that eating too much fat, especially animal fat, caused heart disease and will shorten your life..it seems to make sense right.. I mean ever since the times of Henry VIII, only the wealthy could afford meat on a regular basis, and all of them were rotund and had gout – so obviously the study is right – I mean, surely if you eat Fat, you get fat, the fat becomes fat around your belly and thighs and of course there’s cholesterol in the fat, and that fills your arteries and you die young.. right??

Pig Heart Tartare

Pig Heart Tartare

No way – bad study, bad logic, but smart companies taking advantage of the reality of modern life: sell the benefit, not the product..it’s easy to convince people that fat = fat = fat..it’s total nonsense, but hey, who has time to even thing about such stuff??

Conclusion: these Heritage pigs with their thick covering of serious fat are actually healthier for the environment, healthier for the pig, but most of all – THEY WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHY – Eat Them!

Chefs competing for Prince of Pork in Washington, D.C. are Mike Isabella (Graffiato), Haidar Karoum (Proof / Estadio), Kyle Bailey (Birch & Barley), Jeffrey Buben (Vidalia), and Bryan Voltaggio [Volt, Range, Family Meal].

2013 marks a culinary milestone: The fifth anniversary of Cochon 555, a one-of-a-kind traveling culinary competition and tasting event created to promote sustainable farming of heritage breed pigs. Arriving in the nation’s capital on Sunday, April 7 at The Newseum, the pork-centric tour gathers together five chefs, five pigs and five wineries at each event – ultimately touching down in 10 cities across the country and bringing its message of nose-to-tail cooking, breed diversity and family farming to food enthusiasts nationwide.

Each Cochon 555 event challenges five local chefs to prepare a menu created from the entirety of heritage breed pigs for an audience of pork-loving epicureans and celebrated judges. Chefs competing for Prince of Pork in Washington, D.C. are Mike Isabella (Graffiato), Haidar Karoum (Proof / Estadio), Kyle Bailey (Birch & Barley), Jeffrey Buben (Vidalia), and Bryan Voltaggio [Volt, Range, Family Meal].

2013-04-07 17.04.46Guests will be treated to an epic pork feast alongside wines from five small family-owned wineries including Sandhi Wines, Scholium Project, Elk Cove Vineyards, Westport Rivers, and Silver Oak plus special tastings from Rhone Valley Wines, Anchor Brewing, Crispin Ciders, Illegal Mezcal, and Blue Coat Gin. Twenty judges and 400 guests help decide the winning chef, who is crowned the Prince of Pork and will compete against other regional winners at the finale Grand Cochon event at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen on Sunday, June 16.

Also included in the evening is a preview of the new Heritage BBQ event in which John Critchley of Bourbon Steak will roll out family meal – an additional whole hog cooked barbecue-style immediately preceding the awards.

VIP guests receive early access to the event and special offerings including a special tasting with three competing chefs. The VIP hour is filled with experiences that will not be found on the main floor such as access to “Punch Kings” – a new cocktail competition featuring Breckenridge Bourbon and six local bartenders, a VIP-only gift bag, the all-new Tartare Bar, Rappanhannock River Oysters, and reserve wines and spirits. Guests can enter for a chance to win a roundtrip ticket from Southwest Airlines, Official Airline for the “Cochon US Tour”.

Templeton Rye

Templeton Rye

In addition, to celebrate five years of Heritage Breeds, Cochon added five bourbons to the lineup! All attendees will get samples of Breckenridge Bourbon, Eagle Rare, Templeton Rye, High West, Buffalo Trace and Four Roses in addition to the Perfect Manhattan Bar showcasing Luxardo and Eagle Rare. New to 2013 is also the Chupito/Mezcal Bar, a tasting experience featuring Mezcales de Leyenda, Pierde Almas and Fidencio. The infamous Craft Cheese Bar sees a facelift featuring a local cheesemonger, Cypress Grove Chevre, Vermont Butter & Cheese, Spring Brook Farm with an exclusive tasting of blues from Rogue Creamery, and favorites from Kerrygold. Everyone can commemorate the experience by visiting the City Eats photo booth and voting for the best bite of the day.

High West Whiskey

High West Whiskey

The fun continues with a butcher demonstration presented by Zwilling / MIyabi with Chris Fuller from Alleghany Meats and a raffle to benefit the student volunteers, ice-cold brews, Fernet Branca digestifs, Taza Chocolate pork-spiked desserts, Champagne toast, award ceremony, and of course, the after party will immediately follow.

Sunday, April 7, 2013
4 p.m. (VIP); 5 p.m. (general admission)

The Newseum
555 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 292-6100

Cochon 555 Tickets: $125 (general admission) and $200 (VIP); to purchase tickets, visit www.cochon555.com

So Much Food!

So Much Food!

ADDITIONAL EVENT: CHEFS COURSE DINNER
To kick-off the 5th Anniversary Weekend Celebration, Cochon 555 will curate an intimate “Chef’s Course” Guest Chef Dinner on Friday, April 5 at The Source by Wolfgang Puck hosted by Scott Drewno, two-time Cochon winner. The 5-course dinner will feature great chefs, including past participants, friends and judges paired with a winemaker, distiller or brewer. Go behind the scenes with Team Cochon for this amazing dinner and meet the folks driving the flavor train. Tickets to this dinner are $110, all inclusive and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at (202) 637-6100 and please reference Cochon555.

Guests can enter for a chance to win a roundtrip ticket from Southwest Airlines, Official Airline for the “Cochon US Tour”.
Please invite your facebook friends to this event. Invite over 75 friends, show us screenshot proof, and get a $25 discount code for being a partner to responsible agriculture.

It’s All About the Pie – Makes Me Wanna Shout Pie Competition in DC

March 26th, 2013 • No Comments

This one takes the cake..I mean pie!

This was my “judging” (attendees got to judge – so VERY unofficial!) of an entertaining fundraiser for Martha’s Table called “Make Me Wanna Shout Pie Challenge” held on Saturday, March 23rd, 2013.

First a confession – I’m not much of a dessert eater, and I probably eat less than a dozen pieces of pie in the average year. Pies to me are SO filling and full of sugar normally, that they make me feel stuffed. Still, having been a wine judge, a chocolate judge and who knows what else, I felt I could do this..I mean, taste is personal, and I’m in tune with my own palate. I may not be able to detect every nuance in wine or for that matter pies, but I do cook and bake, and I know how ingredients taste when they come together well.

But I also have a slight bias – I prefer foods with a balance of ingredients and decent acidity – if you gave me a chocolate covered piece of chocolate cake smothered in chocolate sauce, that would score VERY LOW to me – and I would call that a “heavy” cake..The same with pie – things that are truly delicious on their own – chocolate sauce, fudge, peanut butter, gooey sauces – can overwhelm my palate when combined. When I was a kid, I LOVED Chocolate Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, but today I could probably only eat 2 bites – that is simply too heavy for my palate..now if you add a citrus or sour flavored sauce to that, different story!

SPOILER ALERT – Here are the Actual Winners (5 Total)

2013-03-23 14.41.33Pie #6 – Triple-Crust Cast-Iron Skillet Apple Pie This was heavy – heavy/doughy crust, heavy filling and the apples were chewy and didn’t seem acidic enough. This was a “heavy” pie – but of course, made in a Cast-Iron – so you might call this a “country pie”.

2013-03-23 14.34.05Pie # 4 – Old-Fashioned Vinegar Pie My favorite pie or a tie with my other favorite pie which was #3 – Raspberry Rhubarb. I’m not sure if this was the first Vinegar Pie I ever had, but it had a wonderful tartness of cider vinegar against the weight of the eggy filling..ohh, and the crust had tons of butter – Gooood!

2013-03-23 14.33.43Pie #3 – Raspberry Rhubarb – This pie was one of my favorites – both tart and sweet and even rich – according to the pie baker, they use tapioca pudding which acts like a gelatin to give the ingredients some weight..Yummm! Excellent pie crust too, lots o butter..

2013-03-23 14.31.00Pie #2 – Peach Cobbler This was very sweet and on the heavy side..needed some acidity – maybe work on presentation too – but all-in-all very authentic and homey..

2013-03-23 14.29.56 Pie #1 – Fruits of the Forest Pie VERY tart, but I tasted it right after a really sweet dessert and it just seemed a bit too tart/acidic..which normally just means add some sugar! Beautiful presentation..

 

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2013-03-23 14.54.46Pie #10 – Chocolate Chess Pie These were mini-pies and I was pretty full at this point. They tasted like pecan pies without the pecans..but I couldn’t detect any chocolate. Not bad, enjoyable, the crust was good too.

2013-03-23 14.57.31-1Pie #12 – German Chocolate Pie This came in 3rd in my tasting (tie for 1st mentioned above) – it had pecans on top, but was not a pecan pie. I would call this one of the “rich” pies – dessert as a meal in my book – but it had a few real positives which included texture, crunch and a very good crust – this was the only of the “heavy” pies that I gave a top vote..

2013-03-23 14.49.32Pie #9 – P-Chocobana Pie Visually, over the top – and the
2013-03-23 14.50.02The Next Food Network Star?presenter was so Bubbly! It was about 6 inches thick and Rich, rich, RICH! A “heavy” pie with a peanut butter custard filling. Great looking, decent crust, this would go over GREAT for a kids party.

2013-03-23 14.46.02Pie #8 – Dottie Sweet Potato Pie Traditional – this was a very steady original version of this – the maker actually said this was a “slavery recipe” from the 19th century..I would have given this a winning vote, but it is a very simple delicious pie with a very good crust – give it 4th place or 5th place – having said this, there was nothing wrong with this pie – solid!

2013-03-23 14.44.05Pie #7 – Cheryl’s Nice and Naughty Sweet Potato Pie This was good, but very modernized version of Sweet Potato Pie – it was almost a cheesecake with cream cheese added..I liked it, but I wanted whipped cream on top of it – shame on me!

20 For 20 at Redwood – Wine Tasting Hits the Numbers

March 13th, 2013 • No Comments

Sometimes You Get More Than You Expected at a Wine Tasting..

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2013-03-12 18.21.06I’ve been to alot of low-priced wine tastings – and normally, the price of the event and the quality of food/wine/ambiance match – but not this time! Redwood Restaurant in Bethesda, MD which is right in the heart of the burgeoning retail sector on Bethesda Ave (anchored currently by Barnes and Noble) is a beautiful high-ceilinged restaurant with plenty of redwood (surprise!) and glass fronting on a lovely outdoor open-aired pedestrian atrium.

The Setup:
Although there was not actually a private area for this walk-around tasting (no seating) it was in the back of the restaurant and began at 6 pm before the hordes of diners and bar loungers came in. It was a simple basic setup of regular tables with wine reps pouring a selection of their wines at each table based on a theme: Table 1 – South Africa, Table 2 – Italy, Table 3 – France/Germany/Spain and Table 4 – Argentina/Australia/California. Each table had 5 wines, so that adds up to 20..the 20 wines for $20 title..but really, this event had more: generous hors d’oeuvres! Unfortunately, I couldn’t take photos of the food, but it was well-prepared, presented by servers with a napkin (nice touch..funny how important a napkin can be when you are trying to drink wine in a glass!).
2013-03-12 18.23.42The Wines (my apologies for forgetting vintages!): Since I find reviewing wine boring and frankly hard to follow, I’ll focus on what caught my attention. I started at the South African Table with wine rep Matt Leemhuis of Cape Classics, a well-known importer from that region. Two wines were really noticeable – the Kanonkop Pinotage and the Detoren Fusion V, both over $50 retail in Montgomery County. Pinotage is a funky, earthy smokey kinda wine, but it goes great with food. Detoren was it’s polar opposite with a Bordeaux Blend that was luscious rich black fruit and soft tannins and extremely accessible.

At Table 3 which was a mix of European wines, the Leitz Dragonstone Riesling really stood out – all the things I like about a German Riesling with a hint of petrol, but lots of minerality and acidity to balance a bit of sweetness – although Rieslings are great food wines (think Asian food), this one was actually so vibrant on the palate that me a Red wine drinker was just savoring it!

At Table 2 Italy, there was a very interesting white, but I was really enjoying the Argiano Non-Confunditor which is a blend made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese – a Super Tuscan wine, and it actually tasted like a blend of Old World and New World – earth and soil from Italy, but roundness from Cabernet – a really interesting contrast!

Table 4 had contrasting Malbecs: Finca Sophenia Malbec Reserva vs Voodoo Moon Malbec – the first was pretty traditional with a touch of rough tannins and earthy overtones, while the latter was all perfume and weirdly candy-like – unexpected but delicious!
2013-03-12 18.23.37Food: I didn’t try everything, but all hors d’oeuvres were passed – the chicken wings were especially good and enormous – they were in a sweetish BBQ sauce that was decadently good, thumbs up (I ate them to the bone!). The fried foods were served hot, an although the pimento cheese biscuit was only OK, I was overall impressed by service and the food in general.

2013-03-12 18.48.31Conclusion:If they do another 20 for 20 event, snap up a ticket – it’s a great deal, great food and really decent setup and service. If I could Yelp this event (I probably could!), it would be 5 Stars, no caveats. Forgot to mention..even the wine glasses were very nice and big allowing for good swirling..Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Upcoming Wine Tastings at TasteDC:

Jancis Robinson American Wine Tasting at the Smithsonian, Thursday, March 21st, 2013 ,

Clay Mauritson Wine Dinner, Thursday April 25 at Crush Kitchen & Wine House 114 West Street, Annapolis MD 21401 ,

Wines of Portugal 2013 Annual Grand Tasting (Special Discount..), Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 at the W Hotel DC ,

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