Hello and happy Friday! I have been a little bit low mood this past week, maybe from just being so busy and maybe from the transition from hot and humid to gloomy and rainy. (I haven’t seen the sun in almost a week, now…) But I’ve been doing a lot of fun stuff so I thought I’d share a bit of that here today!
This year, several of my friends and colleagues were recipients at the DCFemTech Awards, celebrating women in technology in the DC area and their work. It’s really inspiring to see so many women getting recognized and encouraged, and I am proud to work alongside them.
I was also able to see some friends from college that I hadn’t seen in a while, as well as get an ~exclusive~ after-hours look at the Washington Post headquarters and newsroom!
My first time attending a Daybreaker event was on my birthday back in December. I really loved the concept when I first read about it: early morning dance parties fueled by coffee, juice, and a love of dance rather than by sex, drugs, and alcohol, which aren’t my motivations for dancing.
This month, Daybreaker partnered with the Kennedy Center, one of my favorite institutions in DC and of all time, to put on a great dance party on the terrace. It was crazy hot and humid but I had an awesome time dancing with my friend Megan at her first Daybreaker. Both of us saw friends we knew and had an amazing time sweating and dancing before a Friday work day.
On Saturday, I mentored a hackathon for the first time! I worked with Think of UsThink of Us to help think of ways to make their website for parenting teens in the foster system easier and more appealing for people to use. It was strange being one of the more experienced developers on a team, considering I’m still not very confident in my skills yet, but it was fun to work with that team and I learned a lot about the resources that are available to parenting teens and their caregivers.
My friend Jen’s birthday was yesterday and I wanted to do something with her before she went out of town for her birthday weekend. We had talked about DC’s cat cafe, Crumbs & Whiskers, before but I hadn’t gone. I figured that even if Jen had gone a bunch of times, as an avid cat lover, it would still be a treat for me to take her to enjoy cats and pastries.
Little did I know that Crumbs & Whiskers has recently been offering Sunday yoga sessions. WITH THE CATS. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, even though I was frequently startled by how often I would find a cat where I was going to put my hand or foot. Those precious kitties were worth all the allergic sniffles I experienced, and I got a great yoga session out of it, too!
I also enjoyed a delicious brunch with Jen afterwards, and just remain so grateful to still be friends with this great girl I met at college orientation.
I recently won tickets (thanks BrightestYoungThings!) to EdibleDC magazine’s Eat/Drink Local, where I was able to sample so many delicious foods from local vendors all over DC. From local oysters to truffled gnocchi to blue (!!) cashew milk and an entire pizza, my belly was delighted to sample so many delicious foods and drinks from the area. I have been known to give the DC food scene a really hard time, but it’s because I know there’s so much potential and I want it to be better! It’s gotten so much better over the past 2 years and I can’t wait to see how much more it grows.
Did you know that the DC mayor’s office has a special division dedicated to Asian Pacific-Island affairs? It’s true! MOAPIA (Mayor’s Office for Asian Pacific-Island Affairs) has been putting on events all month for AAPI Heritage Month and I was able to attend Foodelicious Night, where 3 of DC’s most famous Asian and Asian-American chefs performed cooking demonstrations for us and let us taste it after! We had:
Chef Erik Bruner-Yang, the phenom chef who runs Maketto, one of the trendiest and most critically-accalimed restaurants in all of DC, period, and cooked for us a delicious Cambodian curry
Chef Nobu Yamazaki, of the best sushi restaurant in DC, Sushi Taro, which recently won a Michelin star in DC’s first Michelin guide, and prepared for us 2 different sushi rolls
Chef Xiaolong Hu, from Panda Gourmet, the best Chinese restaurant in DC that is famous for being the go-to authentic spot for Chinese embassy employees who are craving real Northwestern Chinese food, prepared for us pork belly buns
This was a really fun event because the chefs all had a lot of personality and prepared really amazing foods for all of us. It was such an incredible way to celebrate Asian cuisine in DC and how easily you can recreate it at home!
Megan’s Birthday Dinner
Last night, I met up with Don, Megan, and several of their friends for a birthday dinner to celebrate Megan! (Fun fact: She actually has the same birthday as Jen!) It was a lot of fun seeing some of Megan’s friends that I haven’t seen in years, or since her wedding last year, or just since the last time we all hung out. (Please tell me it’s normal to have trouble hanging out with friends at a higher frequency as an adult, it is very frustrating to me…)
It was a lot of fun to see everyone and to see Megan twice in one 7-day period!
It’s Memorial Day weekend in the United States, and I’ll be spending it resting, cleaning, and maybe checking out some online sales!
How will you be spending the (long) weekend?
How was your week??
Happy Valentine’s Day! I wanted to share how Ben and I celebrated early a few days ago, but please remember to love yourself, however you are able to best do that.
This is my 400th post on this blog, and I have officially been posting twice a week consistently for an entire calendar year. I’m really proud to have reached this point and may be taking a small hiatus in posting regularly while I pull myself together and refocus. (Might not, we’ll see how I feel!) Thank you so much for being with me this past year and these past 400 posts.
I have a lot of thoughts about the DC food scene, but I will admit that it is improving. (I’ll put up all my gripes about the DC food scene and places that have shown this improvement in the near future!) Last year, Washington DC was recognized as Bon Appetit magazine’s Restaurant City of the Year and also received its first-ever Michelin stars, and that is thanks to many great new restaurants and chefs that have made enough of a name for themselves to do fresh, bold things.
But we aren’t here to talk about the hot new places. Rose’s Luxury has been one of the most-hyped restaurants in the District since I started working in the area. It earned a Michelin star last year and can be reliably found on Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants list year after year. I’ve only ever heard good things from friends who’ve visited the restaurant, citing that yes, it is worth the hype!
Where does most of the hype come from? 2 things:
Their most famous dish, a pork & lychee salad
The fact that they do not take reservations, so people have to start waiting in line at 3pm in order to get a table for dinner… 2.5 hours later.
They do take reservations for large parties (6 or more), but I couldn’t find that many friends so I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to eat at Rose’s.
BUT THEN! Towards the end of last year, Rose’s Luxury announced that they would be accepting reservations! For parties of 2! With the purchase of a gift card that could be used towards that meal!
TL;DR Rose’s Luxury does an impressive job of combining a lot of different flavors in a balanced and unexpectedly delicious way, all while injecting a bit of sassy personality along the way.
Despite the name, Rose’s Luxury is not a luxurious, pretentious, fancy restaurant. In fact, you might walk past it if you’re not paying attention.
Inside, the ambiance is similarly not-stuffy and, in fact, more on the hipster-trendy side. Rose’s has a lot of personality, and it shows in their decor. We were seated upstairs near the bar, and walked past my friends’ favorite seating area that is lit overhead by globe string lights.
Behind me was a shelf with books and fun knick-knacks. A certificate in dining from Hooter’s did not escape me among the otherwise very Pinterest-worthy collection. The servers were dressed casually and otherwise indistinguishable from guests, who were not dressed to the nines for their 9pm dinners. In the bathroom, behind a small mirror was a window that overlooked the dining area below and still had elements of the personality that was subtly embedded in the entire restaurant experience.
We had a gift certificate to blow on our 5th Valentine’s Day together, so let’s get into the food!
The meal kicked off with a soft potato brioche w/ bacon butter. This wasn’t particularly outstanding as far as breads go, but I liked the soft texture and the warmed, soft bacon butter a lot. I only wished it didn’t crumble so much because I want bread to go in my belly, not on the board.
We enjoyed these little bites, and they were a great way to prep us for what is, I believe, the core of the Rose’s Luxury experience: pulling off interesting, unexpected, and bold flavor combinations.
Stuffed dates w/ cultured butter & walnuts // Ben took a bit to warm up to these, but I really liked the sweet and soft dates, the savoriness and warmth of the butter, and the slight crunch and bitterness of the walnuts.
Foie gras tart w/ hazelnut, white chocolate, & Asian pear // This was the strangest of the little bites because of the white chocolate chips embedded in the not-sweet foie gras filling of the tart. But it still came together because of its creaminess and it complemented the sweet flavors of the chocolate and the pear. Kind of hated it when I first bit into it, but found myself liking it a lot by the time the bite was gone.
Sake & wasabi-marinated oysters w/ apple granita // I don’t usually like wasabi very much (sorry wasabi pea lovers!), but these oysters were great because of how the very different flavors and textures came together. It was a bit much for one slurp, but I liked how the frozen apple granita helped mollify the burn I would’ve felt from the wasabi and even from the sake, while still allowing some of flavor of the oyster to come through.
Pork sausage, habanero, peanuts, & lychee // Here we are. The most famous dish at Rose’s Luxury, cited in over 250 reviews on Yelp. At the bottom were herbs and on top was a dollop of coconut cream that, as you stirred the whole thing, would melt over the salad and act as the dressing. There were a lot of flavors happening in this small plate and I do think this is a good example of how Rose’s Luxury really pushes the envelope with combining flavors. Ben and I found this salad a bit too salty and not really worth the hype, to be honest. It was tasty and honestly, I do admire what Aaron Silverman did with this flavor combination, but it didn’t change my life and I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it again.
Fried brussels sprouts w/ benne tahini, eel sauce, & bonito // The prominent flavors in this one were brussels sprouts and tahini, both of which are very strong flavors. I felt this was maybe the least successful in terms of balancing the flavors of all the components, but it was still tasty because the sprouts and tahini were an interesting combination. I just didn’t think the other flavors had much of an effect in the quantity that they were used.
Crispy squid w/ Yemeni hot sauce, romaine, & sweet lemon puree // By the time this came out, Ben and I were starting to feel the effect of the food. We hadn’t really eaten that much, but I think we felt very satiated by the sheer quantity of flavors that we were consuming. The flavors were pretty well-balanced in this one, although I didn’t detect much heat from the hot sauce and I’m not sure if that was intentional or not. The squid itself was… prepared okay? Not that crispy, but it’s hard for me to find a calamari I don’t like.
Thai-marinated pork blade steak w/ nahm prik slaw // Again, by the time this came out, Ben and I weren’t as eager about the food anymore. I was also really sleepy by this point in the evening, as we were seated for dinner at close to 9:30pm and I have been getting sleepy very early because I’ve been attempting exercise in the mornings. As a result, I don’t really have any thoughts about this pork dish, it didn’t stand out as particularly good or bad.
If you’re thinking that maybe we were regretting ordering a pasta… you’d be right. I was nodding off at this point in the meal and my belly was trying to come to terms with how many flavors and ingredients it had met over the past hour. We ordered the farro reginetti w/ garlic, kale, & mustard greens and… it was okay.
The two of us, personally, do not like our pasta cooked very al dente, so the bite-y pasta was a bit of a struggle when 10:30, 11 was rolling around. The taste was fine but… pretty ordinary, to be really honest. A touch of sauce didn’t really help how overwhelmingly al dente this pasta was, and I wasn’t super excited about the leftovers I brought to lunch the next day.
However, our server, Janine, sent a “gift” of a little bit of their Martelli spaghetti w/ tomato, chili, basil, & Parmesan and that was coated in maybe the best pasta sauce I have ever tasted in my entire life? I like my tomato sauces to be a bit sweet, and this was the perfect amount of sweetness that I could tell wasn’t the result of the sloppy addition of sugar. We only were able to take some of this home because we were so done with the meal already, and having those two bites to enjoy over the weekend was nothing short of glorious. I really want the recipe for this tomato sauce, it was the highlight of the entire meal for me and we didn’t even order it! Thank you so much, Janine!
Listen, I know I said that I was basically passed out and unable to eat but I didn’t come all this way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and not eat dessert. You just gotta open up that dessert compartment in your stomach and you’re good to go. Based on Janine’s recommendation, we got the coconut ice cream with burnt caramel coconut and kiwi.
I didn’t love this, unfortunately. The ice cream was tasty, but I think it felt weird to have more coconut after the coconut cream from the pork & lychee salad during a meal where my mouth was constantly being surprised by different flavors and how they were combined. A repeat performance by coconut was like, “Hey… what are you doing back here?” Also, I did not like the burnt caramel coconut. It was sticky in that unpleasant way that lent it a kind of poor mouthfeel and I found the bitterness to just not really work at this point in the evening. And kiwi was a fun choice but I’m not sure I loved the tartness of the kiwi with the sweet and creamy ice cream. I know that people really love this dessert, but I think I just wasn’t in the mood for more coconut or for a flavor to come from burnt-ness.
At the end of the meal, our receipt was brought out to us with a sesame brittle and little touches that made us smile.
I enjoyed my time at Rose’s Luxury but I’m glad I never had to wait hours to eat here. I don’t think it’s worth that kind of wait, and as a result I don’t think it’s worth the level of hype it has achieved. That being said, Aaron Silverman and his team are doing some incredible things with food and flavor that I think DC needs more of. Even the small plates format – which I normally loathe here in DC – works for this because you are getting small punches of these crazy flavors.
In honor of Christine & Karen‘s upcoming trip to visit me in DC, I thought I’d share a little insight as to my planning process when it comes to what to show them when they are here. I am, by no means, an expert on the DC food scene, but these are the impressions I have of it. While we won’t be able to visit all of these places, I hope you will be able to at some point!
Food trucks are kind of amazing and I don’t know why they seem like such a new thing to me. I mean, I’ve been chasing ice cream trucks down the streets for decades now, but I didn’t know this was an option for every other food imaginable! (Also, ice cream truck driver, stop ignoring me just because I’m not a small child, please.)
I don’t know if I can tell you the “most DC-est” food trucks that the District has to offer. This Eat DC series has taken a lot out of me, so I just thought I’d share some food trucks that are important to me, at the very least, and I think they’re important to at least a decent proportion of DCers as well. If you want to know where these food trucks are, you can check their individual Twitter/Facebook accounts or check resources like FoodTruckFiesta.
(Note: All DC food trucks operate for lunch hours on weekdays, typically 11-3, unless they are at a special event.)
This adorable truck with copper pans, a little windowsill flower garden, and French music playing is easily one of my favorite food trucks. In addition to delicious crêpes, which I lurve, owners Chef Mounir Elhilali and Roberto Catanuso are such sweet and kind gentlemen. It’s hard not to smile when you walk up to the truck, these two men smiling at you from underneath their berets, and get wrapped up in the feeling that you’re walking into a French bistro and not relishing your small break from the workday. You can get a gluten-free one, if you’d like, and they make their own lemonades and iced teas! Je vous adore, Crêpes Parfait!
Popular items include chicken crêpe, Nutella and banana crêpe, and ham crêpe
I have long known about TaKorean, which serves — you guessed it — tacos of the Korean variety. There are now several trucks that serve Korean tacos, many of whom I frequent because the TaKorean lines are way too long for me. But TaKorean was the pioneer in the DC area, and their long lines are a testament to their success and the success of Korean tacos in DC. They now have brick-and-mortar locations in DC so that you don’t need to chase down their trucks anymore. If you are a big fan of bulgogi and kimchi in your tacos in DC, you can thank TaKorean for paving the way.
Popular items include kimchi slaw, pork bo ssam, and bulgogi tacos
One of DC’s most popular trucks is Italian regular Basil Thyme. They deliver fresh ingredients and delicious Italian food on wheels, and can you blame the people for being so happy and willing to eat it? It’s one of our most-reviewed food trucks on Yelp, where folks sing praises of the friendly staff — like former IT salesman and co-founder Brian — and delicious food that doesn’t make you feel guilty and full of regret when you’re finished. (Especially because entrees come with a side salad that let you feel a little healthier!)
Popular items include cannoli, eggplant lasagna, and traditional lasagna
One reason a lot of DCers are so grateful for food trucks? Because they can some New England classics like clam chowder and lobster roll. On wheels! (The fun of food trucks is that your food is on wheels.) While many of our food trucks have several competitors — Korean tacos, halal food, etc. — there aren’t that many people peddling lobster rolls on wheels! For a taste of New England in a town that is increasingly embracing Southern comfort food (nothing wrong with Southern comfort food!), it’s nice to be able to settle in with a taste of Maine.
Popular items include Connecticut style lobster roll, shrimp roll, and whoopie pies
You know what used to cheer me up so much on bad days at work that were also dreary and rainy outside? Stepping outside the office and being able to pick up a steaming bowl of pho. PhoWheels is one of our best pho trucks in the area, and I’m so glad that trucks like them exist. Not only do they serve pho, they serve banh mi and banh mi-style tacos. (And you can get a poached egg for your pho or fried egg for your sandwich!) Also, people love the “chork” (chopsticks + fork) that they give you to eat your food with. Plus, they often partner with SnoCream Company, the snow cream bus. (AND THEY SELL MACARONS TELL YOUR FRIENDS.)
Popular items include pork belly tacos, eye of round pho, and banh mi with fried egg
We’ve got more food trucks than we really know what to do with in DC. In the summers, we have a monthly food truck festival called Truckeroo that is a great way to check out trucks that don’t stop by where you work! I love the food truck scene and love sharing my favorites with folks.
Do you like food trucks? What are your favorites?
Is there a food that you wish food trucks served near you? (I wish I could get real NY style pizza!)
DC is one of the top foodie cities in America, but that means that much of our food scene looks the same as others. It’s a culture driven by young professionals who love burgers, brunch, and happy hours. What sets DC apart?
Well, the president lives here. Every president before him has. DC is distinct because of it’s importance in American politics and, subsequently, in US history. In terms of our food scene, this culminates in president-themed restaurants and bars.
Nothing screams DC more than a trendy restaurant that is dedicated to a US president.
With Lincoln, we reach the pinnacle of the DC food scene. Small plates? Check. Southern food? Check. Happy hour and brunch? Check. Trendy food items? Check. President-themed? HUGE CHECK. This is easily one of the coolest places I have ever seen and one of the most DC places I can think of. It is a really nice gastropub with an impressive menu of small plates and drinks. It is also the trendiest tribute to an American president I have ever seen. Copper pennies on the floor, mason jar lighting, cast-iron skillets for serving your food, bathrooms labeled “Abes” and “Marys”, etc. I just really love how into the theme this place is. I mean, PENNIES. Because Lincoln! The cocktail menu commits also, as I fully expect from any themed restaurant.
Popular items include braised short ribs, mac and cheese, pot pie, Moscow Mule, and Lady Lincoln.
Come for happy hour, brunch, dinner, lunch, whatever. Come for the Lincoln-themed gastropub whenever you can!
Actually owned by the same folks who own Lincoln, and actually, a pretty similar concept, as well. Lots of small plates and, guess what, they’re also into the farm-to-table goodness! The menu is meant to reflect Teddy Roosevelt’s love for comfort foods and game, since we all know he was an avid hunter. The vibe here is decidedly different from Lincoln. Where Lincoln is darker and cozier, Teddy and the Bully Bar is brighter and has more modern touches, like the mounted “animal heads” that are really 3D art.
Popular items include mac and cheese, brussel sprouts, scallops, Rio Roosevelt, and safari sangria
Day 2 is probably the morning that we woke up most refreshed after getting the most amount of sleep during this SCK adventure. This is because of what happened at the end of Day 2, but we’ll get to that.
TL;DR We focus a lot on food today, kicking off with fried food galore, doing some museum hopping in the afternoon, and then going out for a night on the town with friends before eating a late night meal at 4 AM.