Washington DC: 2011 Fancy Food Show

Just back from the 2011 Fancy Food Show. The show usually takes place in NYC, but they moved it to Washington DC this year. Incredible. Three days, two nights. Many friends and not enough sleep. A big thank you to Lisa of Chambre de Sucre for taking care of the accommodations. We had a lovely suite at the oh-so-chic Donovan House, complete with rooftop pool + bar and all. The shuttle bus ran direct from hotel to the convention center. A steady and suffocating 95F the entire stay. You bet we avoided doing anything outdoors. Hotel, convention center, and restaurants. Enclosed in air conditioning! It was a semi-waste to not see more of DC, but I was there a few months ago. So that made it ok? hehe. My family and I used to travel often from Hawai’i to work trade shows for our crystal company. And I definitely miss doing that.

Nothing like the thrill, excitement and work of a successful show.

A Weekend in DC…

Woodley Park Zoo, Washington DC

A few weeks ago we decided that a break from work was in order and a short weekend trip would be the perfect remedy. Tickets to Paris were pricey ($400 more than the usual), Hawai’i was far, we didn’t feel like going back to San Francisco. The answer? Washington DC. The Acela train ride was just 2.5 hours. Left NYC at 8am and in DC by 10:30am. Just enough to make it feel like we were on vacation without committing much time to travel.

A weekend in DC means eating cupcakes at midnight while watching movies in the hotel room. This is the Morning Call, an espresso-chocolate cake with coffee buttercream, chocolate espresso bean and a dusting of espresso powder.

Red Velvet Cupcakery was across the street from the hotel…how could we resist?

It also means a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo to see giant pandas…
…and little lion cubs.

There was a breakfast of Ethiopian food at Das Ethiopian Cuisine

– Chicken Doro Watt (chicken, red pepper sauce, spices, hard boiled egg)
– Beef Kaey Watt (beef cubes simmered in red pepper sauce, flavored with spices)
– Beef Alica (beef cubes prepared in special herbed butter, flavored with spices)
– Beef Segana Gomen (tenderloin cubes spiced and mixed with collard greens)
– Ethiopian Harvest Vegetable Specialty (caulifower, string beans and carrots simmered in stewed tomatoes)

Who knew we’d be craving all this at 11am Sunday morning?Seemingly endless injera rolls. Just the right tang to wake us up for a day of walking around Georgetown and Dupont. We didn’t have time to make it back to Dukem or Etete, but there is always next time.

A stop at Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato for gelato, refreshing avocado shakes…

…and churros! Fresh batch! Get them plain or filled with dulce de leche. I went with the latter, alternating bites with spoonfuls mascarpone gelato.

Post-gelato we perused the shelves of nearby Capital Teas before a…

…very brief attempt to visit Georgetown Cupcakes, but after seeing that line…oh man. Not this time. It started to rain (people still stayed in line!), and we turned into the Dean & Deluca’s across the street to see how the inventory at the DC store differs from the NYC location. I was excited to see many local NYC companies featured at the DC store including Liddabit Sweets Once the rain stopped it was just a 20-minute walk to The Tea Cellar at the Park Hyatt where we spent the afternoon.

For dinner the hostess at Rasika proved to be the rudest person in hospitality that I’ve come across, so we headed to Jaleo where happy hour at the bar was still going and both bartenders and neighboring diners made the evening wonderful and relaxed. A shame we never made it to Rasika, but then again, no restaurant is worth tolerating that “hostess”.

At Jaleo there were Gambas al ajillo, spicy chorizo wrapped in crispy potato, fried squid and alioli, patatas bravas, endives with goat cheese, oranges and almonds, and ensalada rusa – a Spanish salad of potatoes, imported conserved tuna and mayo.

We went to Zaytinya the next day – another restaurant owned by José Andrés, for a late lunch of Salyangoz Kibbeh which featured crispy potato crusted snails, herbed ladolemono, and baby lettuce. The fresh pita, served warm to each table proved ideal for all the saucy dishes we ordered which included the…

Hünkãr Beğendi, a traditional Turkish braised lamb shank, with a rich, silky eggplant-kefalograviera puree. We also shared a few other nibbles like fried squid with a garlic-yogurt sauce and a simple salad by the name of Maroulosalata.

Productive afternoon shopping before dinner at Central Michel Richard where the food is “traditional American with a French flair.” Pierre loved it and so did I. Hanger steak au poivre cooked a perfect medium-rare leaning on the rare side with sweet and serious melt-in-your mouth onion carbonara…

…and a frisee salad with lardons, poached egg. Exactly what I craved. Plus a cocotte of garlicky mashed potatoes and bottle of wine. That is what we call a complete meal.

And of all the free museums in DC, I’m afraid we only made it to one…but it was the one with Julia Child’s kitchen.

Pure coincidence :) With the opening of PAUL Patisserie so close to all the museums we’ll have to make museum visits a greater priority on future trips.

If you’re ever in need of a hotel in DC, I’d recommend Hotel Monaco without hesitation. We try to stay at Kimpton-owned hotels when we travel, racking up points. It’s a chain but all their properties are unique. In San Francisco last year we stayed at the Harbor Court which was literally across the street from the Ferry Building.

The Kimpton prices are fair ($200/night for our DC weekend), service is great, Penn Quarter location is even better, and there’s a free tea + coffee in the mornings, warm cookies in the afternoon, and happy hour in the hotel lobby every evening.

But the best part? This little goldfish named Freddi. All the Kimpton Hotel Monacaos (there’s nine scattered across the country) offer a free pet goldfish for the duration of your stay – just make the request when you check-in. They feed and change the water everyday so there’s no work on your part. Pierre thought it was ridiculous, but I thought it was cute. If anything, it’s a great marketing move.

Thank you again to everyone who pitched in with enthusiastic Washington DC recommendations via email, twitter, and even phone calls. Wouldn’t have found all these places without you :)

Red Velvet Cupcakery
675 E Street Northwest
Washington D.C., DC 20004
(202) 347-7895

Das Ethiopian Cuisine (previously Zed’s)
1201 28th St NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-4710

Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato
1560 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-4646

Capital Teas
1614 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 337-8327

The Tea Cellar at the Park Hyatt
2400 M Street NW
Washington D.C., DC 20037
(202) 789-1234

480 7th Street NW
Washington D.C., DC 20004
(202) 628-7949

701 9th Street NW
Washington D.C., DC 20001
(202) 638-0800

Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington D.C., DC 20004
(202) 626-0015

801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington D.C., DC 20004

Washington DC: Tea Cellar at Park Hyatt

My parents are visiting from Hawai’i for the week, but before we dash off to dinner (where I’m introducing them to Pierre…ahhh!)…how about a cup of tea?

The Park Hyatt Washington DC is home to The Tea Cellar. We stopped in on a Sunday afternoon last weekend while visiting DC. A clean cup of Earl Grey for me, and cocktails for him.

They’re a bit snotty if you don’t have reservations (which we didn’t). But you’ll get seats either way (they were practically empty), and the waitresses warm up to you after a few pots of tea and cocktails. Why, of course.

The tea menu is expansive, starting at $8 a pot, and up to $300 for certain “rare” teas that seemed to be there more for the ohlala factor than actual intention of serving.

Regardless of what you order, settle in for the seats are cozy. Even better if you’ve brought afternoon reading material. Pierre had a magazine, and I, a notebook. We lingered at the tea cellar for a good two hours while it was pouring rain outside. If you get hungry, there is an afternoon tea buffet. Buffet! For afternoon tea! Smoked salmon, poached chicken, classic cucumber and butter. Pretty neat right? Less refined for sure, but all you can eat tea sandwiches?

Alas, if only we had not devoured an Ethiopian feast at Das the hour before! I’m wasn’t sure if I could do $30 worth of tea sandwiches and scones, so had to pass this time.

But we’ll be back. That humongous jar of devon cream is surely impossible to resist.

Tea Cellar at Park Hyatt Washington

2400 M Street Northwest
Washington D.C., DC 20037
(202) 789-1234

Washington DC: PAUL Patisserie in Penn Quarter

How lucky are we…

…that our last morning in Washington DC coincided with the grand opening of the Parisian patisserie, PAUL in the Penn Quarter. We stayed at Hotel Monaco and the patisserie was literally around the corner…surely that must be a sign.

PAUL has been around since 1889 and even with 453 shops in 24 countries, it is still a family-owned business. How impressive is that? The majority of their locations are in France (326 locations), and the rest are spread across the world. They have 4 locations in Florida now. This is their first DC location (with plans to open a second in Georgetown soon). But I’m mainly concerned with when they’ll come to NYC…

And how lucky were we to get the very first palmier out of the oven…

…and the very last slice of this killer tart slice filled with vanilla bean pastry cream, sweet apples slices and a crunchy, golden top of toasted almonds.

Heaven? Oh yes. Look at that tart shell! Even Pierre was drooling. I think he was a little homesick for Paris, heheh. And that doesn’t happen often.


801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington D.C., DC 20004

Weekend in DC: Day III

After a late Saturday night in Adams Morgan, we woke up the next morning to rejuvenate at the Dupont location of Teaism. My first experience with Teaism took place two months past, when Darien brought along a bag of Salty Oats on one of her weekend visits to the city. The crumbly oat cookies generously speckled with sea salt, proved so memorable that we made sure to include Teaism in our weekend agenda.

Moroccan mint green tea

The restaurant was quite lively in the morning with crowds of hungry customers, though luckily enough the lines move efficiently and we were able to find a seating for our group of seven with no issue. A few of us had the Moroccan mint green tea featured above, slightly sweetened and heavy on the mint.

Birchermuesli with homemade yogurt & fruit

I spotted Muesli on the breakfast menu and immediately settled upon that. I’ve always had a soft spot for museli, be it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. There’s something oddly comforting and very satisfying in yoghurt soaked cereal, often with a handful of dried cranberries and raisins. The best muesli is doubtlessly found at Kahala Resort’s breakfast buffet in Honolulu, but with that said, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with concocting your own muesli. Up until last year I used to prepare muesli for breakfast right before going to sleep. I’d mix cereal (either store bought or a personal mix) and dried fruits with plain yoghurt and a swirl of honey then store in the fridge till breakfast when I’d top it off with blueberries, bananas, and strawberries. The only hard part (for me at least) was resisting the temptation of waking up in the middle of the night to polish off the muesli – it was too good to leave till morning! Thai Chicken Curry

Shann went with Thai curry over brown rice (it automatically come with brown, not white :), while Chrissy had the Palak Paneer, and Kelly, a sort of assemble your own roll set, complete with tea cured salmon, miso mayo, nori, braised cabbage, and brown rice.

Cilantro Scrambled Eggs with Tea Cured Salmon

Pictured above is Nat’s dish of eggs and salmon…click here for a photo of Darien’s veggie burger on wheat focaccia. The variety of menu options is vast, and thus either impressive or disappointing depending on the eyes through which you view restaurants. There are places which you patronize with the sole purpose of eating, and eating well. And then there are other in which you do want good food (one should never desire otherwise!), but company and the need to please the taste buds of all involved becomes a greater desire. Teaism falls in the latter, and there on a lazy Sunday morning, with good company in the sunlight drenched second floor of Teaism, there was no place else I’d rather be at that very moment.

We followed the morning meal with a walk through the Washington DC Farmer’s Market which rivaled that of NYC’s Greenmarket in both size and variety of vendors. Prices were right on par with the city…am I the only one who finds paying $4/pound for peaches absurd? There’s no arguing that they’re ridiculously delicious, but its hurts my wallet to the same extent it pleases my taste buds.

We spotted everything from steamed clams to a Dolcezza stand with more of yesterday’s gelato…and of course, seemingly endless bounty of heirloom tomatoes, and summer corn.

I thought this little watermelon chart was adorable :)
We spent the afternoon in the city of Georgetown, a large chuck of it within the safe haven of Baked & Wired with sweet and cups of coffee and.

The bakery layout was charming, if not confusing to navigate. You enter on the left, but need to walk to the right side (there’s a wall dividing the two sides) to order drinks first. You then have to take the drinks back to the left where you select baked goods of desire, and then pay for them all at the end counter. It’s a bit disorganized, but the sight of sweets calms all.

Each product is outfitted in a glass cake, a la these carrot cupcakes seen above, with a bright “name” tag. Very, “awww, so kyoot” inducing.

Shann’s chocolate hazelnut biscotti was the sure winner of our selections for the day, chocolatey and crumbly just right with generous hazelnut chunks. Perfect for dunking in a warm latte.

My “Jolt Brownie” on the other hand…

…was some sort of oddness more akin to a chunk of fudge as opposed to a brownie. Toothachingly sweet and dense…I don’t mean fudgy brownie, but just plain fudge ^_^ The “jolt” of espresso was bright and clear, the single satisfying element in the brownie.

It was late afternoon before we realized it, and Shann and I were soon due on our bus back headed to NYC. The estimated five hour ride ended up taking seven hours, and we were glad to heed Darien’s advice of taking along dinner from Granja De Oro Chicken A La Braza for the bus ride.

1/4 chicken with fries and salad – most enjoyable meal I’ve had on a bus to date! I feared the smell of fries and chicken might have upset neighboring bus riders, but when others whipped out a plethora of burritos, pizza and doughnuts, I knew everything would be just dandy.

2009 R street NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 667-3827

Baked & Wired
1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-2500

Granja De Oro Chicken A La Braza
1801 Adams Mill Rd NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 232-8888