Tag Archives: Events

Bohemian goes Barefoot, Pt. 1: They Meet

I’m sure you’ve been in suspense this entire time about whether I met Ina Garten and if she made me one of her fabulous friends up in the Hamptons. Have I left my life in DC behind to go from dazzling urbanite to scintillating suburbanite? Well the short answer is no and the long answer is noooooo.

I did get to “meet” her, more or less, but getting to that point is a tale in the telling. I haven’t been to too many book signing events in my time, but between the atmosphere and the signing itself, this could easily turn one off of them. Not that I wasn’t elated to meet her, but after standing around for 2 hours in the rain, one could have hoped for a bit more.

With the signing on a weekday afternoon, none of my friends were able to take time off and make it but I was able to talk a co-worker into going with me and she drove us, so no negotiating metro to get there. What I didn’t realize was just how popular the signing would be, even though I barely heard about it myself only finding out through a friend that heard it on the radio. It “started” at noon, and we got there around 12:30p. By that time, the store was full of people waiting and the line stretched outside the store, around Pentagon Row and nearly “ended” back at the store! On the advice of others waiting in line, we went into the store to buy our books and then got in line. When we made our purchases, there was a very short stack of cookbooks that the employee said “That’s the last batch and when they’re gone, they’re gone!”

Now, when we left the office, it was just a cloudy day, rain was forecast for the evening, but nothing else. When we got out of the store, the bottom dropped out. We quickly walked around the shopping center to get in line and my co-worker went back to the car to get our umbrellas. And then came the waiting… We struck up conversations with others in line, I shared my umbrella with a very nice guy and as the line moved, we inched forward… and kept checking the time. I know that she’s popular, but I don’t think any of us expect to stand in line for nearly 2 hours, outside, in the rain, without much organization or information. Eventually Sur La Table employees brought us out plastic bags in which to hold our books and tried to give us a heads-up as best they could. It started to feel like an amusement park, “From this point there will be a 45 minute wait,” except there were no Fastpasses! I did my best to maintain a positive attitude, tweeting and sending photos, but at some point the phrase “I survived cancer for this?!” did go through my head.

Finally after what seemed like hours–and actually was hours, we made it inside the store. The line still stretched around the interior of the place, but it still felt like progress… and then we saw the signing rules: no personalized autographs and no posing for photos. The guy I’d shared my umbrella with immediately said “Are you kidding me?!” and there was a four-letter word uttered by someone behind us in line. Now if I’d known these rules before paying full price for the book and getting in a 2-hour line…in the rain, I might have reconsidered it all, but that sign wasn’t near the books or the cash register. By the time we saw it, we felt so close that it seemed ok to stick it out, even if we were being shuffled past her as if we were on an assembly line.

A few feet from the door to the room, an employee advised us how to arrange our books for an easier–read faster–signing, and then at the doorway another employee reminded us that she couldn’t pose for photographs, but that we could give our camera to an employee who’d take a picture of us while she signed our books. Still not the best arrangement, but I took a deep breath, worked on my best smile and convinced myself that if I was ever going to become one of her gays, now was the time. As mentioned, that didn’t happen, but she was very nice for all of the 45 or so seconds I got to “talk” to her. Thankfully I had two books for her to sign, so I got a little bit of extra time and I mean a “little bit” and then a security guard shuffled me along, barely giving me time to put my cameras away.

And that was it, really. Aside from a few photos I snapped through the window or while waiting in line, it wasn’t exactly a great “foodie” experience. When compared to meeting Sara Moulton at Hill’s Kitchen, this one pales in comparison. Admittedly, it was a smaller crowd and Sara scheduled a cooking demo and Q&A, and while I didn’t expect all that, I was hoping that I could at least get a “To: _____” in my book, not just her quickly scrawled autograph. Still, I did get to see one of my food idols, even if I couldn’t really say more than a sentence to her, so I suppose that counts for something. Next time, however, I will call ahead to find out if the store or publishing company has any rules or restrictions on the signing. Caveat emptor and all that, right?

As much as the signing felt like a comedy of errors, trying to make a recipe from her book turned into just as much of one, too. But that’s for Part 2!

Barefoot Contessa Book Signing, 10/27

If you’re a fan of Ina Garten, TV’s Barefoot Contessa, then the title of her new book should come as no surprise: How Easy Is That? Even though her “How _____ is that?” catchphrase is easy to snark on, it’s often pretty true and as a devoted Barefoot Contessa fan, I find myself muttering it while in the kitchen every now and then. Especially when using her go-to recipe for Roast Chicken again and again. Not that roast chicken is terribly difficult, but the thought of it can be really daunting until you see how easy it is to make–it’s also easy to mess up, but few things aren’t!

Still, the recipes on her show do range from simple to complex and at times she does suffer from what I call “Martha Stewart Syndrome” where she will say a recipe is “simple” and then call for ingredients or devices that you simply can’t get at your local store or even on a weekend errand run. Not that I mind buying hard-to-get items online, but waiting 2-7 days for something to arrive so I can make a dish isn’t all that fun. She’s also not afraid of cooking with butter or alcohol, though it’s the former that sends most people running… that and her penchant for heavy cream! But most of her dishes are designed to feed at least 4 people and we can always determine our own healthy-sized portions, right?

Of course, if you hit this entry, you don’t need me telling you what you likely already know, so here’s the important news: Ina is currently on a signing tour with the new book and she’ll be at Sur La Table at Pentagon Row in Arlington, VA tomorrow October 27 from noon to 2pm. (If you’re anything like me, you had a little *SQUEE!* moment when you first heard about this.) I’m hoping to arrange a little food-lover group of signing buddies to go, but if you can’t make it, I believe they will let you call ahead–703-414-3580–and purchase a signed book or possibly order one through their website.

I’ll be honest though, I’m mainly going to meet Ina and make this year one where I meet two of my food idols. And I sort of have this fantasy that she’ll sweep me up in her magical button-down oxford shirt to The Hamptons and make me one of her gays… but that can’t happen without eye contact! If you’re into her recipes and not bothered about an autographed copy, some online retailers have her new book for nearly 50% of the list price. But she has signings scheduled through the end of the year, so if you’re not in the DC area, there’s still a chance to see her.

Admittedly, I’m no book reviewer, just a huge fan so if you’re not yet sold on the idea of the cookbook, here are some excerpts & recipes that might help make up your mind:

Chipotle & Rosemary Roasted Nuts (Serves 8 to 10)

Recipe: Chipotle & Rosemary Roasted Nuts

  • vegetable oil
  • 3 cups whole roasted unsalted cashews
  • 2 cups whole walnut halves
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 12 cup whole almonds
  • 13 cup pure maple syrup
  • 14 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tsp ground chipotle powder
  • 4 tbsp minced rosemary leaves, divided
  • Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350°

Brush a sheet pan generously with vegetable oil. Combine the cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, the maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice, and chipotle powder on the sheet pan. Toss to coat the nuts evenly. Add 2 tablespoons of the rosemary and 2 teaspoons of the salt and toss again.

Spread the nuts in one layer. Roast the nuts for 25 minutes, stirring twice with a large metal spatula, until the nuts are glazed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 2 more tablespoons of rosemary. Toss well and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking as they cool. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or cool completely and store in airtight containers at room temperature.

If you’re planning on going, leave a comment or drop me a note! Because just like with Sara Moulton, I want to get a picture of me with Ina Garten. And let’s face it: The Urban Bohemian and The Barefoot Contessa? How perfect is that?

Cochon 555

5 Chefs, 5 Pigs, 5 Winemakers, one cause: to raise awareness for heritage breeds and family owned farms. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you may wish to look away now…

I don’t really have the words to describe it. Some people call the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner the Nerd Prom, well Cochon 555 is the Pork Prom, no doubt about it. Pork based dishes, desserts and drinks, some amazing wineries, a demonstration where Butcher Ryan Farr completely… butchered a 216-pound pig. I was lucky enough to attend with Adventures in Shaw, One Bite at a Time and Not Derby Pie. We also ran into food bloggers The Bitten Word.

It was hard to pick a favorite, but I managed to cast my vote–and then maybe have a few more nibbles. Of the competing chefs: R.J. Cooper of Vidalia, Joe Palma of Westend Bistro, Daniel Singhofen of Eola, Nicholas Stefanelli of Bibiana, and David Varley of Bourbon Steak, it was Varley of Bourbon Steak who was declared the winner. Honestly though, all of us in attendance were the winners. I’m sort of glad I’m fasting for a hospital visit today because I still don’t have any room after last night!

New Capitol Riverfront Market

Per a press release from the Capitol Riverfront BID, a new market is on the way this May!

The new Capitol Riverfront Market, offering fresh produce and locally prepared foods, will open Thursday, May 6th and operate from 3 pm to 7 pm weekly through November at the intersection of New Jersey Ave., SE & M St., SE, adjacent to the Navy Yard Metro (New Jersey Ave exit). Entrance to the market is on M St., SE.

Every Thursday, the Capitol Riverfront will transform into a festive marketplace with over ten local farmers and vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables, breads and baked goods, herbs and spices, pickles, olive oil, jams, honey, desserts, flowers, prepared foods and more. The fresh food market is presented by the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District and Diverse Markets Management, in partnership with The Donohoe Company.

This is very exciting news for the residents of this area who haven’t really been served very well in terms of local markets. There are some fast food places, a nearby gourmet foods store and a bar/cafe just opened up, but the best options for produce have been either Eastern Market or the new Safeway at the Waterfront Metro station. Neither one is far away, and both make for a great walk on the weekend when you’ve time to spare, but in terms of an after-work shopping trip, navigating the metro can be a bit of a pain–dealing with commuting crowds when you just want to pick up some items for dinner!

I’m optimistic with a drop of pessimism. The Capitol Riverfront BID has tried a market before and it didn’t do so well. In fact, it didn’t even last a day. That market was aimed more at general shopping–gifts for the season, etc.–than just food, but I’ve seen at least one merchant at another market and he seemed hesitant to give them another try. Still, this area has plenty of residents and I hope they can make this a success. I know I’ll be stopping by to check it out next Thursday!

Starbucks Free Pastry Day Mar. 23

If you’re a Starbucks addict like me, you know that tomorrow morning, Tuesday March 23rd is Free Pastry Day at Starbucks. Get a free pastry with the purchase of a beverage.

The free pastry coupon is available here at their blog. You can print out the coupon or show them the coupon on a mobile device. They’ll stop redeeming the offer at 10:30 am–just in time for the morning coffee stop or that 10am coffee break.

I had to stop getting pastries at Starbucks when I started reading their nutritional information. Even though they’re advertising a more natural, less artificial line of pastries with no trans-fats, I still pass on them for something a bit more on the healthy (and filling) side. But if you’re looking for a little sugar rush to go with the daily caffeine, it’s a good deal. You usually can’t beat free. And since people do love free, I’d hit them up earlier rather than later.

Yelp DC Drinks Week Mar. 1-7

As if RAMW’s Unleashed wasn’t enough for you next week, Yelp is also getting 17 DC bars and restaurants to participate in Yelp Drinks.

Yelp Drinks flyer with details and participating venues

Who’s up for a city-wide happy hour… all day long, all week long?!

For many of us, there is nothing like unwinding with a cold beer, glass of wine or a tasty cocktail. This March, for the first time ever in DC, Yelp brings you Yelp Drinks, a city-wide opportunity to sample some tasty, alcoholic beverages at some of the places that locals love most! Participating locations will feature up to 3 adult beverages for 50% off, all week long during their business hours.

Yelp Drinks prices are good all day Monday through Sunday while supplies last. Though we’re calling this a happy hour, it’s more like a happy week – lasting for 7 straight days!

I know some of us cast a side glance at those people sitting at bars with drinks in the early daylight hours, but maybe next week they’re just taking part in the deals. Not just restricted to Happy Hour, these specials being offered all day is pretty unique. From $2.50 for a Great Lakes Amber Lager at SOVA Espresso and Wine to $14 for a Pitcher of Fusion Sangria Margaritas at Hudson Restaurant and Lounge, there’s something for everyone in this list: beers, mixed drinks, martinis, classic cocktails and perhaps a few surprises. The “100 calorie cocktails” being offered at PS7’s are intriguing to say the least.

There’s a kickoff party tonight at The Park at Fourteenth from 5-10p if you want to mingle with some fellow Yelpers–is that what they call themselves? Between Unleashed and Yelp Drinks, I’m looking forward to chasing away some of the winter doldrums with a few friends, a few bites and more than a few drinks!

DC Metro Restaurants “Unleashed” Mar. 1-7

The RAMW has just announced UNLEASHED. Over 100 area restaurants will be offering specials during the week of March 1-7, 2010.

This will be a great way for patrons to unleash the pent up dining passions that have been so constrained over this winter […] it’s not just dining; this is also about social contact, conviviality, decompression and so much more that we tend not to think about until it is taken away. Think of our Unleashed week as an intense, really big, group therapy session.

— Lynne Breaux, President of RAMW

A quick read over the list shows a nice selection of participating restaurants, so it shouldn’t be hard to find a qualifying table. Many are offering one of my favorite things, multiple-course fixed price menus. Of course, those restaurants may not whip out the steak and lobster, but I think the lessons of many Restaurant Weeks past in this area have taught them not to scrimp–and not to place upcharges on everything.

During the snowstorms, there was a lot of twitter buzz over which restaurants were open/closed and which were still debating it. Even those diners that did make it out found that many places didn’t get their usual deliveries and weren’t fully stocked. Hopefully the Unleashed week of specials will get more people out to eat and help more than a few venues recoup the social if not financial capital that being snowed-in took away. In any case, most people in DC hardly need a reason not to cook, but these specials might serve to sweeten the pot.

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour at Againn

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour of 2010 will be at Againn on Wednesday, February 3rd.

It’s that time again, the DC Food Bloggers are having their first Happy Hour of 2010 at Againn this Weds, Feb 3rd from 6-8p. Thrifty DC Cook puts it best:

Are you looking for another opportunity to drink specialty beers, eat delicious bar food, and slur recipes to one another? Well here it is.

Attendance is free–of course–but if your RSVP for the food blogger happy hour is in the affirmative, you must leave a comment over at ThriftyDC’s so they’ll have an idea of what kind of turnout to expect in addition to their regular happy hour crowd.

If you have a DC food blog, this is a great way to meet your fellow foodies and share ideas, recipes & techniques. If you’re just a fan of local food blogs or have been thinking of starting one of your own, it’s a good opportunity for a meet and greet. While I don’t look forward to braving the cold, I am looking forward to some good company and good food!