Thursday, October 27, 2005

LOVE for CakeLove

My days wrestling with CakeLove are over. I can finally say, with all my heart, that I had a truly delightful CakeLove experience. No more dryness. No more disappointment. No more questioning its powers.

The secret? Take head baker Mary up on her advice-- wait at least 15 minutes before enjoying the treat and I assure you, there will be a difference in taste (sweeter), consistency (moister) and feeling afterwards (fulfilled but craving more).

Last Friday the kitchenette turned twenty, no better time to celebrate with cake.

I removed the slice of Strawberry Shortcake and Vanilla Cupcake with Strawberry frosting from the fridge and immediately ran upstairs before my fork could get near the seductive sweets.

Insert 15ish minutes of dilly-dally time here.

Now direct your focus to the above photo at right. The two servings were consumed faster than a fraction of the wait time, with little left but a few chunks of frosting. (And I'm not even a frosting person) Normally sweet enough to make your mouth pucker, this one had the rich flavor of whipping creme with a fluffy consistency that didn't lose its shape.

Next to sport bras from mom, the delightful CakeLove experience was one of my favorite birthday presents received this weekend.

Case Closed.

To read about my CakeLove saga, click here.

And check out the DCist's (not-so-sweet) take on Warren's first episode of Sugar Rush, his new series on the Food Network.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Gorging on Pumpkin

Looking for pumpkin dishes in the District? This weekend's Sunday Source had a great run-down by Holly Thomas of all the restaurants in town featuring the squash cousin on the menu.

Eastern Market sells pumpkins for $0.39 per pound and gourds are a steal at three for $1. They also have simmering pots of hot apple cider ready to ladle and a variety of seasonal squashes piled high in baskets, with adorable names like buttercup and dumpling squash.

Speaking of adorable, meet my day-old pumpkin named Heathrow. From the Washington Monument to the Capitol steps, his walk home from E-Market included an evening city tour. Flipped over and hiding behind the other pumpkins, Heath was shy when we first met, but his plump, lopsided shape spoke to me. Before long, his guts were removed and his seeds were in the oven (sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled in oil). There's nothing like the scent of roasting pumpkin seeds to make the house fill with a cozy Autumn aroma.


Here's a simple recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds:

1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds (from one medium-sized pumpkin)
2 tsp. melted butter or oil
seasonings to taste

Preheat oven to 300° F.

Don't fret about the few pumpkin strings and pulp that get in the way(they add flavor), but do clean off any major chunks.
Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with 2 tsp. of melted butter or oil and add seasonings of your choice. Salt and garlic salt are customary, but try cinnamon and sugar to make your own rendition of Kettle Corn.
Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
For best results, enjoy with hot apple cider.

.......................................................................................................................................................

Gorging on Pumpkin
By Holly Thomas
Sunday, October 23, 2005; Page M09

CHEESECAKE

Dessert-lovers, this is your season -- pumpkin cheesecake has taken over menus around the city. CakeLove 'slight, creamy take tastes better with every bite. "We make our version of the cheesecake from scratch from the best quality ingredients we can find," says Mary Meyers, the baking manager at CakeLove (1506 U St. NW, 202-588-7100). "We scrape the paddles and bowls over and over to make sure there are no lumps in the batter, so that the cheesecake is as smooth as possible." Even those who pass on Mom's pumpkin pie will be tempted to devour this sweet treat -- it's just that good. LoveCafe , CakeLove's eatery across the street (1501 U St. NW, 202-265-9800), offers individual slices for $7.70 when in stock. Or order a whole cake from CakeLove, with advance notice, for $55.

California Pizza Kitchen also offers a rich, subtly sweet version of the dessert ($5.99, http://www.cpk.com/ ). And the Cheesecake Factory ( http://www.thecheesecakefactory.com/ has a traditional pumpkin cheesecake for $6.50 a slice, as well as a pumpkin-pecan alternative for $6.75. If you're hungry for more, you can take home a 7-inch pumpkin cheesecake for $22.95 or a 10-inch for $42.95 (or order online; the smaller one is $1 more).

FROZEN TREATS

That Custard Place in Del Ray (2310 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, 703-683-7767) has taken its luscious pumpkin gelato and added a DIY twist. You can pick up a box of four pumpkin gelato fritters, which are rolled in cornflakes, brown sugar, pecans and pumpkin seeds ($11.95). Cook them individually for 15 seconds in 3 inches of hot oil, or use the deep fryer after you've fried your Thanksgiving bird. The result is creamy, crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. The shop (formerly known as the Del Ray Dreamery) also offers pumpkin gelato ($2.48 for small), pumpkin gelato sandwiches with ginger cookies ($3) and pumpkin moon pies with homemade marshmallow ($1.50).

MARTINIS

Seasonal sippers can opt for the $9 organic pumpkin martini created by bartender Gina Chersevani at Poste Moderne Brasserie (555 Eighth St. NW, 202-783-6060). Chersevani juices heirloom pumpkin squash, then strains and simmers the liquid before mixing it with house-made vanilla sugar, cardamom, cinnamon and Captain Morgan's Original Spiced Rum. A dollop of creme fraiche is added to the rim for a touch of savory to complement the sweet drink.

You can sample other variations on the pumpkin martini theme at Maggiano's Little Italy ($7.95, 5333 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 202-966-5500; $8.50, 2001 International Dr., McLean, 703-356-9000) and Cafe Atlantico ($9, 405 Eighth St., NW; 202-393-0812). The Four Seasons Hotel 's Garden Terrace Lounge tweaks its version with Stoli Vanil vodka ($16, 2800 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-342-0444).

PASTA

The humble pumpkin gets star treatment at 1789 (1226 36th St. NW, 202-965-1789) under chef Ris Lacoste. She fills ravioli pockets ($13) with two types of locally bought pumpkin as well as fresh and salted ricotta cheese, and serves them with a rich wild mushroom sauce studded with cranberries and walnuts. Deep-fried strips of pumpkin add a finishing touch. Bartender Sal Deluca recommends the 2004 Albario ($10 a glass), which balances the earthy, rustic aspect of the pasta. (A bonus: The restaurant's soft, diffused lighting makes everyone look their best -- even if they happen to drip sauce on their chins.)

If you can't get enough of the pasta-and-pumpkin duo, opt for the pumpkin gnocchi at Ristorante Tosca ($20; 1112 F St. NW; 202-367-1990). Chef Cesare Lanfranconi and his staff roast kabocha squash (a winter cousin to the traditional pumpkin), then puree it and mix in amaretto cookies and candied fruit. The pasta rests in bechamel sauce with white truffle oil and fontina and Parmesan cheeses.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Magical Marla


Remember that homemade Honey Cake I referred to a couple weeks ago?

Well here's the Silver Spring woman behind the cake that helped me bring in a sweet New Year. And believe me, Honey Cake is just the beginning.

Marla's creations highlight the best spices, fruits and baked good traditions. Raspberry Pear Tosa, Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Cookies, Apple Raisin Challah Bread Pudding and Coffee Blond Brownies just begin to cover her lovable line-up.

Her name is Marla. Magical Marla.

"From reporter to press secretary, from newspapers to television, from statehouse to the White House, campaigns and cookies mixed. With politics as a day job, Marla continued to bake, 'by the light of the moon'."

What caught my eye-- the College Care Packages. Oh mo-ther...

As Marla describes, you don't need a fake ID to eat 'em..they're a great way to bribe roommates.. and sugar rush powers up library time into over time.

Wondering if she bakes your favorite treat? Ask her. Willing to share your favorite recipes? Marla would be happy to read them! Party coming up? Need a magical gift? Give Marla a holler. info@marlasmagic.com.

Disclaimer-- the photo gallery will have you fantasizing immediately.
Marla works out of her Silver Spring kitchen. She was selected as one of The Best Mail-Order Picks by Marian Burros last year; featured on this list of wonderful dessert resources, compliments of foods411.com; and her political-consultant-turned-baker story is in this nice write-up.

Bono at Cafe Milano!



Bono was just spotted dining at Cafe Milano!! One of my dearest friends filled me in on the scoop, and god only knows how fast I'd run down there if I was on campus! In town for his U2 Vertigo 2005 Tour earlier this week, the demigod himself must have been making music of a different kind after his tiring stage performances -- stomach grumbles. Next up at the MCI Center (in the wake of Bono's departure): professional bull riding on Sunday.

Ris Lacoste, her story Ri-vealed

1789 should get the tissues ready..

I received a handful of emails a couple weeks back about Ris Lacoste's farewell to 1789. The Hoya gossips in the know of food news and, quite frankly, Washington history (at least in my humble kitchenette opinion) wanted to know the scoop on Ris's professional transition. Of course I was just as curious about the future of the most happening chef to hit Prospect Street!! We all know Ris is a busy woman.. but characteristic of her benevolence, the gourmet goddess was willing to spare twenty minutes to chat with a girl on a mission. A mission to become friends with Ris.

Below is my article which ran in today's Hoya. By the end of the interview, I was signed up (more than willingly) to work with her, shadowing Ris while she works her magic behind the kitchen (unfortunately not -ette) doors, before she is no longer a 3-minute walk away.


................................................................................
.October 21, 2005.
by Erin Zimmer

She is the mastermind behind 1789. Her luscious pumpkin ravioli and scallop margarita ceviche fill the stomachs of Washington’s elite politicians and visiting celebrities, and distract Wisey’s customers waiting impatiently for their parents’ next visit. Her French-meets-New England cuisine has brought unprecedented success to the restaurant during her 10-year reign. But come New Year’s Eve, on what she promises will be an “emotional” night, 1789 Executive Chef Ris Lacoste will cook her last meal at this Georgetown institution.
Last week’s rumors are true — Washington’s queen cook will live her dream and take a risk. Ris Lacoste has decided to make a late career move and, though a “young man’s sport,” she will create a restaurant all her own.

Trailing her through Tombs’ secret backdoor entrance and up a cramped wooden staircase, I asked Ris if it was normal for her to be working a mid-afternoon stint. She paused mid-step, turned around and shot me a stare — for a second I was nervous I had said something wrong. “Twelve to fifteen hours a day on average, starting at about 10 in the morning.”

Ris has earned the gamut of chef awards including “Chef of the Year” in 1999 by the Capital Restaurant & Hospitality Awards program, has competed on Iron Chef and serves as the reigning queen of D.C. Central Kitchen’s Capital Food Fight. Somehow she finds time to act as Capital-area chapter chair of the National Board of Directors for the American Institute of Wine and Food, and you can even sneak a peek of her home kitchen in this month’s Washingtonian.

A pre-med Rutgers student who moved west to Berkeley to study French and Biology, this French-Canadian superstar chef was well-known then among friends for her Thanksgiving “misfit dinners,” for which she annually opened her dining room to anyone sans a home for the holidays. Ris left California and wound up in Burgundy, France, in the early 1980s, where she zealously shopped the outdoor Parisian markets and studied culinary arts at the La Varenne Cooking School.

To this day, Ris places the most importance on the natural harvests. A regular shopper at the Dupont Circle farmer’s market, she recalls her experience last week when she ordered 100 heads of fresh Washington cauliflower — the delicious delicacy is nearing the end of its season.
“He was all out but I told him I needed it.” She got what she wanted. Then she spent the rest of the week sorting through recipes, deciding what to do with the white florets.

Her inspiration behind each creative dish arrives at different moments, through different channels, “but they all depend on the season.” She looks into the distance and seems to conjure the shape of each squash, the scent of each basil sprig. No wonder Thanksgiving has always been her favorite holiday; Ris is all about “seasonality” and celebrating produce that is growing “right now.” Looking at 1789’s decor, it fits the same harvest theme — cornucopia, pumpkins and wreaths in rustic browns and reds surround the dining room.

But unlike the holiday of her childhood, when she could freely enjoy her mom’s colorful spread, this year Ris must pick at turkey scraps and cranberry sauce whenever she finds time. Upholding the 1789 tradition, Ris and the rest of the dinner crew will serve 50-60 gallons of stuffing and over 200 pounds of mashed potatoes to 650 dinner guests throughout the 10-hour workday.

At stressful times like the holidays, Ris looks forward to a big career move and promises that in her new Washington restaurant, currently unnamed and still without a home, she will have “big windows and know what time of the day it is,” without becoming a slave to the kitchen.
Since her visit to an Australian wine bar four years ago, she realized that she was needed her own scene. Unlike the cozy but sometimes cavernous ambiance of the fireplace-furnished 1789 dining room, Ris wants “to see the sunshine, the rain, and the clouds,” even if she has to “jump off a bridge,” in effect, to reach that goal.

Normally leaving 1789 long after Lauinger groupies have cashed in on caffeine at Midnight Mug, Ris never makes it home in time for the local news but she finds relaxation in David Letterman and the Late Show lineup. Sipping her coffee, she looks out the window to Healy Tower and remembers her Berkeley days when quiche and lasagna were her primary college snacks.

Finishing up her last two months after ten years of excellence will prove emotional for Ris and the 1789 staff. But I have a feeling that in the end, she will achieve her New Year’s resolution — Big windows, clouds and sunshine are just around the corner.
................................................................................

Here's a string of 1789 buzz from Wednesday's Ask Tom where he reveals his dining room preferences, decor issues and the breaks of living in Washington where VIPs live the good life and there's nothing we can do about it. At the end, I included some inspiration for Ris and her huge endeavor!

Washingtodining: One more time Tom, which dinning room do you recommend most in 1789. Thanks

Tom Sietsema: I know they HATE it when I say this, but my favorite room is just behind the host stand, the formal John Carroll (sp) Room. It reeks of Old Washington (in a good way, of course). I'm not a big fan of the upstairs dining rooms.
_______________________

Re: 1789 dining rooms: I wholeheartedly agree with you Tom about the upstairs dining rooms at 1789. Last year I made a reservation for Christmas Eve dinner in July--the only request I had was that we not be put in the top floor. I called twice more over the next several months to confirm and again reiterated that request. They were very polite and said each time that they had accounted for it. So I fly my parents in for this dinner I've been bragging about...and where do you think they put us?!? That would be the top floor. What was even more frustrating is that while we were waiting downstairs for our table we ran into friends (one of whom is a VIP) and I asked them when they made their reservations--a week before. We had the same amount in our party, same reservation time, and our friends were put in one of the lovely downstairs rooms. Talk about a terrible experience. You really do feel like you've been put at the kids' table. I don't even remember the food or the service (but I do remember the carollers sweating by the time they hoofed it upstairs) because I was so upset. Shame on 1789! I'll never go there again. And yes, I mentioned my displeasure but didn't want to cause a scene in front of anyone and ruin their time. I never heard back from management even though I left my info and told them I'd like to discuss the problem. I guess you just have to be a VIP for that restaurant to give you any concern.

Tom Sietsema: The cooks deserve a better stage for their efforts, I agree. You'd think 1789 would redecorate, or do SOMETHING to warm up those upstairs spaces.
As far as VIPs getting first-class treatment, welcome to Washington.
_______________________

Gaithersburg, Md.: Tom, have you ever thought about opening your own restaurant. You seem to have a good knowledge of what is good and what is not (at least to you).

Tom Sietsema: Man, opening a place of my own is the last thing I'd ever do. (Imagine what the critics would say!) Seriously, running a successful restaurant is hard work. I have great admiration for those who do it well.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Snappy Menu Additions


Next week, Georgetown's spunky crepe/bubble tea joint snap is introducing new gourmet soups and Belgian pommes frites to their already snappy menu. Sauces for the pomme frites will include wasabi mayo and teriyaki sauce. The soups are hand-picked by owner Margarita herself, from favorite cookbooks like: the Moosewood, Lidia Bastianich's collection and Red, White & Greens.

snap also serves the premiere Philadelphia roasted coffee La Colombe just in time for the chilly Fall breeze. But don't let the weather scare you away from her cold bubble teas-- flavors like almond and taro milk tea or coffee latte, her son's favorite, are tasty enough to survive any season.

MargaritaVille at the Smithsonian


The first-ever frozen margarita machine created back in 1971 will slush its way into the Smithsonian National Museum of American History! Proud inventor and Dallas restaurant owner Mariano Martinez was first inspired by 7-Eleven Slurpee machines and made the device out of an old soft-serve ice cream machine. He was inspired when his waiters couldn't squeeze the limes fast enough -- now the margarita mama symbolizes the innovative American spirit at its best.

**For cheap margarita's here in the District, try Alamo Grill in Georgetown where pitchers (of Strawberry or Lime) are only ten bucks on Thursday nights! Plus they serve free chips and salsa. Enough said.

Speaking of the Smithsonian, the Mitsitam Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian is listed first under "Family-Friendly" in Sietsema's latest Fall Dining Guide. He gives it 2 stars of his 4, but to have a museum cafeteria even reviewed in the first place is a big deal! And it sure beats the Air and Space's McDonalds. Rumor has it that Mitsitam serves a pumpkin soup..

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Zengo is a go-go!


The ever-growing Fusion Restaurant-sphere.

Dictionary.com has no results for Zengo, but Tom Sietsema does. He translates it as the Japanese word for "give and take," and "if all goes according to plan," it will officially open its doors today. Sure enough, it did.

I wanted to confirm that Zengo was a go, so I called to make reservations -- even at 10:45pm Wednesday night, it was still abuzz. Reservations are still available for tomorrow though, so don't feel intimidated by its premiere day prowess.

The Asian-Latin fusion restaurant combines the talents of Shanghai born-Alan Yu (from Citronelle) and Mexican native-Richard Sandoval (from Denver's Maya), and partners them with Italian songbird Placido Domingo. Talk about a mouthful. This musical, fusical hot spot has all its bases covered-- food, song, now all it needs is a movie theatre upstairs or an art gallery in the basement. As DailyCandy so soundly put it, "Placido Domingo will trade arias for arepas when he opens the doors (raises the curtain, you might say) at Zengo."

The pairing seems a bit far-fetched-- one culture reveres Tabasco and Chili Peppers, the other, Teriyaki and Chopsticks. But despite pairing what appears to be two completely opposing cuisines, Zengo reported to the Weekly Dish that it won't just be throwing together "soy sauce and achiote."

But how assimilated can a fusion restaurant get before it's overkill? When do the region-specific cuisines begin to get lost in one another? Interfaith dialogue, great. Intramural sports, sign me up. But interracial restaurants? Are they really PC? Provender-ly Correct, that is.

Washington plays host to a number of fusion restaurants. We've got:

Ortanique: Caribbean + Canadian
730 11th Street, NW
202. 393. 0975
-"The Cuisine of the Sun"
-"..a fusion of different nations & the freshest of nature's bounty, combined with exciting & exotic tropical flavors."
-"live jazz music is provided in the second floor lounge."
-Voted "Best Mojitas" by Bon Appetit and WHERE Magazine

Firefly: America + Europe
1310 New Hampshire Ave.
202. 861. 1310
- "..the quintessential urban neighborhood restaurant, offers sophisticated, contemporary American fare for the city's many 'regulars' who dine out several times a week. "
-"..incorporating cuisines of the world while featuring fresh local produce."


Mie N Yu: America+ The Eastern Hemisphere
3125 M Street, NW
202. 333. 6122
- Forget traditionally stiff wooden chairs and tables, dine in the "Turkish Tent, Moroccan Bazaar, Venetian Room, Baroque Room and Tibetan Lounge."
-"American cuisine with accents from countries along the Ancient Silk Road from Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe."
-"Sip a cocktail in the Colonial Hong Kong Bar while listening to eclectic grooves from across the globe."

Asia Nora Japan + The Rest of Asia
2213 M Street, NW
202. 797. 4860
-From the creators of America's first certified-organic restaurant."
-"The organic ingredients used are artfully balanced to create fragrant and spicy dishes from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, India, Korea and Vietnam."
- "Simple, healthful dishes of Asian cuisine with an East-meets-West interpretation."
-"..filled with Asian artifacts, soft furnishings, and mirrors."

Sake Club: Ditto.
2635 Connecticut Ave. NW
202. 332. 2711
sake, sake, and more sa-ke.

IndeBleu: France + India
-"..marries French flirtation with Indian overtones.
-"..the dining experience is set up as a four-course meal--first, second,main and dessert--but any item can be ordered a la carte."

Indecisive at best, I seem like a perfect target for the fusion dining wave. A little of this, a little of that is my middle name. But maybe, if history should repeat itself, I just can't decide where I stand on this one either.

..One fusion that I have no qualms about loving: the Soy Vay sauce line.
"Jewish Boy Meets Chinese Girl and SOY VAY! A Sauce is Born."
Read the back of the label the next time you're cruising through the grocery store.


Zengo is located at 781 Seventh St., NW. Is it really a go? Are other fuse-aurants in Washington a go? What do we think?



Thomas Sweet Jumps on the Bandwagon!


I think I'm hearing things...
Did Someone Say Pumpkin? Part III.

It was nearing 11PM last night when I knew I had to fulfill a Thomas Sweet blend-in craving. Still dazed from a miderm induced all-nighter, it was time to reward myself.
Ran down P Street and made it through the closing T. Sweet doors with just enough time to be characteristically indecisive. Feeling indulgent, I knew it wasn't a froyo night, so that saved some time. I began to shop the chalkboard for sampling options when suddenly...
A new flavor popped out at me.. new as in, you were not here last week.
Did someone say..
Yes, finally, Thomas Sweet did say Pumpkin.
Last week after reviewing Max's, I felt embarrassed for T.Sweet. An ice-cream shop without a seasonal flavor that defines the season? Maybe I'm just a pumpkin zealot, but c'mon. Seriously, Thomas, c'mon.
To make for an anti-climactic ending, they were all out. But you bet I made the lady scrape up what was left to muster a heaping sample.
Verdict: authentic. Almost tasted like pumpkin puree straight from the can, but better. I liked it. The only real issue-- there wasn't enough of it. She promised they would have more tomorrow, but my advice is to get there early. They're running out fast.
My night didn't end up too bad-- settled for a Cinnamon and Swiss Chocolate Blend-In with M&M's, and took it on a midnight stroll to Dupont. Tragically, I was finished before 29th street..

Check out this list of pumpkin patches in the nearby burbs.

The theme of the recent Iron Chef America was PUMPKIN. A panel of judges had a very tough decision to make, tasting a pumpkin ravioli with lobster and fall mushrooms from 1789's Chef Ris Lacoste; Signature's Chef Morou's pumpkin and lobster tea with pumpkin beignet, pumpkin sour cream and caviar, and pumpkin soup 'cappuccino' with rabbit sausage and amaretto; grandma's pumpkin gnocchi with truffled fontina cheese sauce; and strudel Tosca with pumpkin, apples, pine nuts and chestnut croccante cream from Ristorante Tosca's Chef Cesare Lanfranconi.

The winner was...(drum roll please) Chef Morou!

Did Someone Say Pumpkin? Part II
Did Someone Say Pumpkin? Part I

If you find any pumpkin-flavored anythings floating around on menus in Washington, please report it here! Calling all pumpkin dishes, reveal yourself to The Kitchenette!


Saturday, October 08, 2005

Message from CakeLove



Back in August I said:

"CakeLove is one of those places you want to love so badly, but just can't. I love the backstory, but twice I have left unloving the dried-out baked goods. The first time i splurged on a three-dollar Amaretto cupcake and after a few short bites, was begging for a glass of milk to lubricate the pastry. Gave them another try with a slice of the five-dollar Strawberries & Creme layered cake (a best-seller), but again left wishing the three layers were actually "fluffy," like the description claimed.

From People Magazine to the Washingtonian, CakeLove always sparkles in magazine reviews. with bloggers, the opinions fluctuate a bit more-- DC Füd is a big fan. DCist and Don Rockwell-- not so much.

According to the DCist article.. "Frequent complaints we've heard from friends range from cake that is far too dry, icing that is the equivalent of a slab of butter with a consistency that's far too thick, generally overpriced products, and reports of gastrointestinal distress from even the smallest amounts of confection."

the ambiance is great, the charm, abounding. but in terms of the dryness factor, i think it was said best by Tom Sietsema this morning on his Ask Tom chat.
_______________________
Cake Love: Hey Tom: what's your take on the offerings at Cakelove, the bakery shop?I'm moving to downtown Silver Spring, where one is opening soon.
Tom Sietsema: I have yet to taste a slice of cake from there that isn't dry, frankly. The sweets need work.
_______________________
Petworth, Washington, DC: RE: Cake love Thank you for confirming my opinion of cake love's dry cake! All my friends rave about it. Whew! thanksAnd I always sit next to my wife when I have a chance at a restaurant. That poster must just be jealous!
Tom Sietsema: LOL"


Well, since then I've gotten their side of the dryness dilemma. CakeLove head baker Mary Meyers notes that, because of their special baking methods, the butter temperature plays a big role in the taste. The baked goods will taste dry unless they're at room temperature. No matter where you buy it-- from the CakeLove bakery counter, the display window at Love Cafe or the one at Marvelous Market, the baked good is served refrigerated, so Mary recommends supressing your own cake love for 15 minutes until the cold pastry warms up a bit.

Here's a message to the blogging community from our friends at CakeLove. Does this solve the CakeLove quandary..What do you think?

........................................................................................................................................................................

Dear Bloggers,
Thank you to the DC bloggers for commenting on CakeLove and Love Café! We love feedback because it helps us become a better bakery and cafe for Washington, DC. We always want to improve so we invite the comments and feedback! You can always send direct mail to iwantcake@cakelove.com.

Nothing is fat free at CakeLove! Butter and sugar are in, like, every single thing we make. The all-natural tip that we obsess about means nothing has preservatives and most everything is cold when it’s sold. But heads-up because that’s not how it’s to be eaten!

We want everyone who tries CakeLove to do it under one condition: @ room temp. The best way to enjoy CakeLove cakes and pastries is at room temperature. We use nothing but fresh ingredients so we’ve got no choice but to refrigerate most of the cakes & pastries before they’re sold.

We agree, cold cake ain't suitable for eating! Have your CakeLove and eat it, but only @ room temp!

With Love and Cupcakes,
Your friends at CakeLove and Love Café

Friday, October 07, 2005

Tasty Georgetown


It makes sense that Grace Church hosts a weekly Meditative Taize Eucharist service and bible study, but this Saturday, the small Episcopalian parish will welcome divine forces of a different kind—the epicurean gods.

A Taste of Georgetown will take place this Saturday, October 8, on and around the “gates of Grace” from 11 AM to 4 PM. This year the all-day event will offer cuisine from twenty-six neighborhood restaurants, including posh Peacock Café, hyper-elegant 1789 and the less-ritzy, all-American rib joint Old Glory. Each four-dollar “tasting” ticket will allow Tasters to try a portion of the best-selling menu items from the area’s most prestigious restaurants.

Initially run as a sort of bake sale, Taste generated just $700 in its first years and was organized by church volunteers raising much-needed funds for the Georgetown Ministry, a philanthropy started in part by our university to provide services for the neighborhood’s homeless. Well, much has changed over the last twelve years thanks to a little help from Mie N Yu’s general manager Oren Molovinsky and our hungry stomachs. Last year, Taste of Georgetown raised $17,000 for the Georgetown Ministry, and this year, they’re ready for even more mouths to feed.

To help make the Taste of Georgetown such a success, Molovinsky partnered with Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID) last year and used his staff of servers and managers, normally suited in chic all-black, to man booths and even sell tickets. It’s no surprise that Mie N Yu became a finalist for The NRA’s 2005 Restaurant Neighbor Award for their Taste of Georgetown extreme make-over. (Settle down Charlton Heston-haters, it's the National Restaurant Association)

While your nibbling, be sure to shop for artwork from several of Georgetown’s boutiques and shops, including Fornash Design and Stitch DC, and dance to jazzy jams from Washingtonian Magazine’s “Best Night Club,” Blue’s Alley.

This year, Taste will offer complimentary wine with each cuisine “tasting,” and as always, a view of the C&O canal and an opportunity to help the neighborhood’s neediest homeless. Here's a list of all the participating restaurants.

Grace Church is located at 1041 Wisconsin Avenue, next to Filomena Ristorante, the home of the best weekend brunch in town.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Kosher Delis in the District



A belated Shana Tova! from my half-Jewish heart. Some genius coined the term cashew (half Catholic + half-Jew) and I'm proud to call myself one. The Jewish High Holy Days are in full swing--they began sundown on Rosh Hashanah (Monday, October 4th) and will end ten days later on Yom Kippur (Friday, October 15th).

So where do Washingtonians schlepp to find geschmak kugel and brisket? Sure Bethesda and Potomac have their fair share of Kosher delis and bakeries, they've got more Jews than the Wonkette has look-alikes for Harriet Miers. But finding the challah can be a tricky task if limited to the District itself.

Does this mean that Washington is a town full of goyims? Why does finding a Jewish delicatessen have to be so difficult?

The closest thing we have is K's New York Deli (formerly known as Krupin's). Even the name says it all-- Washington is not pretending to be a deli town (because it ain't). Their creamy chicken soup, matzo balls and Nova platters are shipped to Tenleytown from Brooklyn. Although a little fatty, the chopped chicken liver and corned beef on rye are classic examples of Kosher comfort food (don't forget the dill pickle, they're served on every table). Customers complain that the matzo ball soup is too salty, but if you're watching cals or sodium levels, then go next door to Whole Foods. Others rave that the soup is better than Robitussen, highliting Jewish penicillin at its best.

The especially hungry are encouraged to order the beef-in-the-pot, a hefty casserole with two bowls of chicken broth, two matzo balls and a meaty slab of tender boiled beef. Sweet tooths beware, the dessert display greets you upon entering. Did someone say Black and White cookie? hmmm..

It doesn't claim to be Manhattan's best, but it sure does ok for Washington's standards. Rumors have it that K's has been mentioned on episodes of the West Wing. Plain and simple, K's is the only real Jewish deli in Washington, but if you're willing to make the trek, try Celebrity Delly in Potomac ("plenty kitschy," according to Washingtonian Mag, but they think it beats K's on most accounts) or Bethesda's kosher steakhouse, Red Heifer.

Back in June, DCist did a story on the lack of bagelries, and encouraged entrepreneurs or bored Washingtonians to jump on the bazillion-dollar chance to score in the bagel biz. Still no takers?? More recently, our friends at DCist celebrated "The Days of Awe" in their Mishigas Edition. (Mishigas = just another Yiddish term with the "sh" sound--this one means "craziness.")

Here's a meager list of the area's "Kosher Restaurants," and a little tutorial on "The Meaning of Traditional Rosh HaShana Food" can be found below, compliments of the fine people at about.com: (Don't worry District gentiles, half of me is with ya on this one)

Round Challah: The round shape symbolizes a perfect year to come. Sometimes raisins or honey are added to make it extra sweet.

Apples and Honey: We dip the apples in honey to symbolize our wish for a sweet year to come.

Head of Fish or Gefilte ("filled") Fish: Fish is an ancient symbol of fertility and abundance. The head of fish symbolizes the head of the New Year. The head also symbolizes our hope that the Jewish people will lead other nations through their righteous acts.

Head of Lamb, Sweet Chicken or Meat Dish: Head of lamb symbolizes our hope that the Jewish people will lead other nations through their righteousness. The sweet entree symbolizes our wish for a sweet year.

Tzimmes: Tzimmes is an eastern European recipe for honey baked carrots. The Yiddish word "meren" means carrots and to increase. Carrots symbolize our hope that we increase our good deeds in the coming year. Some tzimmes recipes add prunes, sweet potatoes or even meat to the sweet carrots.

Spinach: Spinach symbolizes a green year with plenty of produce.

Honey Cake (the k-nette's personal fav): "This day is holy to God, your God; do not mourn and do not weep...for the joy of God is your strength." (Nechemiah 8:9-10). It is said that the Prophet Nechemiah introduced to the ancient Israelites the Persian custom of eating sweet foods to celebrate the New Year.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the most important of all Jewish Holidays and the only that are purely religious, unrelated to any historical or natural event. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the most solemn day of the Jewish year. It is a day of fasting, reflection and prayers, so fill up on the honey cake while you can.

Today, my boss at the Smithsonian brought in a home-made honeycake and I cannot tell you how many fake "Xeroxing" trips I made to sneak slices from the copy room. Each time I justified it by pretending it was my job to make sure each corner was at a perfect right angle. A little bit here, a little hunk there..Oy, I can feel it in my hips. If only my Jewish grandma was reading this right now, she would be so proud. No Shikseh here (scroll down).

K's Deli is located at 4620 Wisconsin Ave NW; Washington, DC, near the red line's Tenleytown metro station.


Celebrity Delly is located at 7913 Tuckerman Lane; Potomac, MD. They can be reached at: 301-299-1740.

Red Heifer is located at 4844 Cordell Ave; Bethesda, MD. Order your kosher filet mignon at: 301-951-5115.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Dine for America


Back in October of 2001, a group of restaurants across the nation decided to donate 100% of their earnings to the 9/11 American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund on one special night. Now, Dine for America is back at it again, bringing together a group of restaurants in the Washington metro area, pledging to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina or Rita. Tomorrow, October 5th, the generous participating restaurants will donate at least a portion (if not all) of their earnings to the cause.

Thanks to Open Table for keeping us informed on this opportunity to help.

Monday, October 03, 2005

tee hee

me, in cupcake form!

Speaking of which, read this from Daily Candy about the one-woman operation in Falls Church, Le Cupcake.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ice Cream in Autumn?


Did Someone Say Pumpkin? Part II.

Anyone can make ice cream look good in the summer, but when it comes to the season of changing leaves and hot apple cider, stick to Max.

Max's Ice Cream in Glover Park is now serving its seasonal "Spicy Pumpkin" flavor through Thanksgiving, in both ice cream and 98% fat free yogurt form. A fan of spices (and seasons), I was smitten by the flavor and not tortured by my usual indecisiveness. Max made my ice cream choice easy. Pumpkin all the way.


The trickier question was what to try for the second scoop. "Honey Graham" and "Cinnamon" were both attractive, but ultimately the chunks of graham crackers had me sold. The base of the ice cream had a spiced flavor, so I would say I got the best of both worlds. (Max also has a "Ginger Snap" flavor that he rotates with the others in the "cookie genre")

Max can be a little gruff when it comes to sampling, but there's no way I can pick a flavor cold turkey (can you tell I'm a fan of the seasons?) So basically, Max can deal. But maybe if I woke up at 9:30 every morning to churn ice cream and stayed at work late enough to watch the Whole Foods employees across the street go home, I'd be a little impatient too.

The menu is always changing, aside from the best-sellers like "Oreo Cookie" and "French Vanilla" which stay year-round, everyday. I asked about his favorite of the 200 rotating flavors and Max replied with a wink, "they're all my favorite." He wouldn't sell it if he didn't love it, he says.

But "Mrs. Max," as the kids call her, has no qualms about picking hers. She pointed to the hand-made sign and said, "the pumpkin, for sure." I was skeptical, but Mrs. Max promised that both the ice cream and yogurt have the same pumpkin intensity. Their ingredients are exactly parallel, except for the milk. Less rich and creamy, the yogurt is more light and icy, but doesn't lack in pumpkiness (she swears). I had mine with chocolate sprinkles just to add a little texture, but overall the pumpkin yogurt hit the spot.

The ice cream titles are colorful and kid-friendly. They remind me of playhouse signs with backwards letters and matching pictures. Makes sense that there would be a baseball field across the street.

Thomas Sweet will always hold a soft (serve?) spot in my heart, but they have yet to make a pumpkin flavor. Max is just enough extra blocks up Wisconsin to make the trek a bit tough on a Georgetowner and sometimes I can't fight my craving for a Blend-In, a T.Sweet original. When in a fro-yo mood, it's always the Oreo and Chocolate Custard yogurts (99% fat-free) mixed with M&M's. But sometimes you just have to go for the gold-- Cake Batter and Strawberry ice cream (nothing fat-free about it) with M&M's, of course.

And for the record, even when ordering one of The T.Sweet Combos, an almost habitual practice, I still get a few samples. Something tells me I deserve it.

Max's Ice Cream was voted 10th place on the Washington Post's Best Bets 2005, but number one by Metrocurean Amanda. A single scoop is $2.30 but best in a waffle cone (85 cents extra). While you're at it, why not splurge for the topping (70 cents more)? With tax, a T. Sweet Blend-In is $4.35.

Max's Ice Cream is located at 2416 Wisconsin Ave NW, across from Guy Mason Park and Whole Foods.

Thomas Sweet is located at 3214 P St. NW, in between CVS and Marvelous Market on Wisconsin Ave. and right down the block from Georgetown Presbyterian Church (supposedly where they filmed a scene in Wedding Crashers).


Saturday, October 01, 2005

More than just a Blogger


the kitchenette is guilty of writing columns for The Hoya as well. (But they are all hand-picked from the blog!)