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More than 18,000 people gathered at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center this weekend for Metro Cooking D.C., a culinary event featuring tasting exhibits and cooking demonstrations hosted by celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri.

With two cooking stages, a tasting pavilion, book signings and cooking workshops, attendees had their choice of what to indulge in.

It was the ninth edition of Metro Cooking D.C.

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The pork buns at Momofuku are one of the most popular menu items. Photo by Arnold Gatilao (flickr user arndog) used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

The pork buns at Momofuku are one of the most popular menu items. Photo by Arnold Gatilao (flickr user arndog) used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

David Chang gave us culinary news to celebrate this week: the celebrity restaurateur and owner of beloved New York City-based ramen joint Momofuku Noodle Bar will open a D.C. counterpart in the spring.

Chang told the Washingtonian that the space, a 4,500-square-foot hall in CityCenterDC, will also house a pop-in Momofuku milk bar and a trendy dessert cafe that dishes out creative cakes, cookies and pies. Look out for the Ritz cracker cookie and “crack pie,” both crowd favorites.

Though Chang anticipates a slightly experimental menu, he said D.C.’s Momofuku (Japanese for “lucky peach”) will serve his iconic pork buns. The stuffed-and-steamed, melt-in-your-mouth dough (pork belly, pickled cucumbers, hoisin sauce, sriracha, scallions) has inspired hundreds of copycat recipes from both amateur chefs and figures like Martha Stewart.

We’re also hoping he brings us nightly bun specialties, like options with brisket and shrimp that frequent his New York base.

While Chang said to expect “super-casual dining… I don’t want to make food for foodies,” he also told the Washingtonian he “[doesn't] really want to serve burgers either.” So what’s inspiring him of late? Spinach dip and chicken fingers.

Let the countdown to opening day begin.

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Monday, Aug. 11, 2014 12:17 p.m.

A guide to D.C. Restaurant Week

For those in the city, Restaurant Week from Aug. 11 to 17 is a chance to (cheaply) test the D.C. area’s numerous gastronomic options. With $20.14, you can buy a three-course lunch, while for $35.14, you can enjoy a three-course dinner (plus drinks, tip and tax). 

Keep in mind when choosing a place to eat it’s better to avoid restaurants that serve tapas and small plates. While some of the best and most creative restaurants in the city feature smaller portions – think Zaytinya, El Centro, Oyamel and Graffiato – you’ll likely pay about $35 for three tapas year-round anyway.

Reservations across the city tend to fill up quickly, but below is a list of highly rated restaurants with offerings that range from Russian to Japanese to French and still have reservations available. If you are already here for the summer or came back to the District early, here’s your chance to dine away. Book reservations to a restaurant by clicking on its name, which links to its OpenTable page.

Gazpacho Photo by Flickr user cyclonebill / CC-BY-SA 2.0

Gazpacho is just one option available at 2941. Photo by Flickr user cyclonebill / CC-BY-SA 2.0

2941 Restaurant
Falls Church, Va. ★★★★½✰

It’s hard not to appreciate 2941′s undeniably stunning setting: small waterfalls, koi fish, lush trees and – oh, yes – a lake. All contribute to the restaurant’s charming and romantic ambiance. It serves contemporary American food influenced by flavors of the Mediterranean.

Expect hors d’oeuvres like tomato gazpacho and salmon tartare, while grilled pork loin and rockfish remain options for the main course. And dessert? 2941 takes a twist on the classics, serving black forest cake (cherry ganache, vanilla bavarois, Kirsch syrup and roasted cherries) and peach melba (brown sugar cookie, toasted oat ice cream, peach marmalade, raspberry granite and almond streusel), among others.

La Chaumiere
Georgetown ★★★★½✰

Take a break from the crowds (and typical fare) of the city at La Chaumiere, the Georgetown restaurant that looks more like a tiny French inn than the Friday night date spot it’s known to be. Other than its consistently high-quality food (La Chaumiere has won the Washingtonian’s “100 Best Restaurants” award 29 times since 1978), the restaurant’s stone fireplaces and wood beams make it feel cozy and intimate.

SEI Restaurant & Lounge
Penn Quarter ★★★★½✰

SEI is the glamorous Saturday night hangout spot you’ve always searched for but have never found. The space’s minimal white leather sofas and luxurious dripping crystal light fixtures are reason enough to book a table, but the food and drinks are also top notch.

Aside from the handcrafted sushi rolls and tofu bibimbap bowls, SEI offers a bevy of creative cocktails that range from Asian pear sangria to lavender margaritas and “liquid wasabi” sake bombs. For restaurant week, SEI has both a lunch and dinner special, so there’s no reason not to taste test the typically expensive lounge.

Pulled pork and fried green tomatoes at Acre 121. Photo by Flickr user justgrimes / CC-BY-SA 2.0

Pulled pork and fried green tomatoes at Acre 121. Photo by Flickr user justgrimes / CC-BY-SA 2.0

Acre 121
Columbia Heights ★★★★✰

This swingin’ country bar and restaurant also moonlights as a bluegrass and folk rock music hall on weeknights, taking a new approach to “dinner and a show.” In addition to entertainment value, Acre 121 offers some of the best barbecue in the D.C. area as well as more craft beers on tap than you can keep track of, making it a true Southern establishment. Fresh grits, chipotle BBQ and jalapeño cornbread are just a handful of the dishes that set Acre 121 apart from its more traditional neighbors in Columbia Heights.

Russia House
Dupont Circle ★★★★✰

Why dine like a college student when you can dine like a tsar? Russia House’s diverse menu serves traditional Eastern European fare: stuffed short ribs, sausage with black caviar, zapechionaya baranina (lamb chops with lamb confit and red dandelion greens), shaslik (marinated pork with rice, tomatoes, cucumbers and dill), chicken kiev (with classic Hollandaise sauce and tarragon foam) and Russian salads.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Russian dinner without vodka, of which Russia House has many kinds – more than 200 from across Europe. Order a single two-ounce shot for about $10, or drink your way across Russia with the Vodka Flight sampler, one of the restaurant’s more popular drinking options.

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Your favorite part of the day: Every time you bite into a Chipotle burrito.

Your favorite part of the week: Every time you bite into a Chipotle burrito.

Since arriving at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. last year, Chipotle has been a student paradise.

But eating all those burritos can take a toll – on your health and your bank account. The Hatchet talked to two dietitians to find out how to craft both a healthy and delicious Chipotle order.

Dana Magee, a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, said college students often come to her office and ask how to plan a nutritious and balanced diet. When juggling classes, student organizations and jobs, it’s almost impossible to avoid eating out. And when dining out, the cheapest options are typically the least healthy.

Magee said there’s a way to make smart decisions to ensure a more balanced meal.

“It’s really about the amount,” Magee said. “[Having beans] can be a good addition, but it can also be a lot of volume of food. You may pick and chose between either getting the cheese or getting the meat or you might just decide you’re going to have half the bowl for lunch and half the bowl for dinner.”

At Chipotle, Magee said to pick either the burrito bowl or salad. The lettuce and salsas are great choices, but for the dairy-lovers, students should choose a ping-pong-ball-sized portion of either cheese or sour cream.

“The brown rice has higher fiber, which helps us to to feel fuller and helps to control blood sugar and helps to decrease cholesterol,” she added.

Magee said guacamole is a heart-healthy fat, so adding that to the top is a nice treat. But, again, portions are key, and Chipotle is known for its heaping spoonfuls of guac.

Ashley Koff, a registered dietitian who’s appeared on “The Dr. Oz Show” and “Good Morning America,” advocates for making better quality choices to become healthier, or as she says, being a “qualitarian.” She says the best choices are balanced ones.

“What’s unhealthy is to not get nutrient balance, to skip carbohydrates entirely. Sometimes people will do that,” she said. “They’ll say, ‘Let me get a bowl of lettuce.’ They won’t get the grains. They won’t get the beans. They won’t get the rice.”

Koff also said students should opt for a bowl or a salad, but mix in fist-sized portions of rice or beans so they have the energy from the carbohydrates. When people don’t have enough carbohydrates, that afternoon nap will call their names.

“Fast forward three hours, that’s when they’re sitting in class and they’re dying and they either need two Red Bulls, a large latte, a coke or something that’s either sugar or caffeine or both to keep them awake,” Koff said.

Still, too many carbohydrates cause nutrient imbalance. If you must, have half of a burrito now and another after class to make sure you don’t overload on the carbs.

Koff, who frequents Chipotle at airports during her travels, usually gets the salad with either beans or sofritas, guacamole or a small amount of cheese and hot sauce.

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Junior Patrick McCormic is one of five first time marketing interns at Bobby's Burger Palace this semester. McCormic performs marketing tasks for the restaurant, including contributing to its Tumblr, serving as a brand ambassador and organizing on-campus community service projects. Elise Apelian | Senior Staff Photographer

Junior Patrick McCormic is one of five first time marketing interns at Bobby’s Burger Palace this semester. McCormic performs marketing tasks for the restaurant, including contributing to its Tumblr, serving as a brand ambassador and organizing on-campus community service projects. Elise Apelian | Senior Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter David Harvey.

It’s never been just about the burgers at Bobby’s Burger Palace.

The K Street restaurant, owned by Food Network star Bobby Flay, has also been in the business of promoting its namesake’s brand since it opened in 2011. Now, it has another goal: Preparing the next generation of restaurateurs.

A GW junior is one of five first-time marketing interns at the restaurant this semester, taking part in what Flay calls “Bobby’s Burger Palace University.”

“The whole idea is to create energy around Bobby’s Burger Palace. We do a lot of charity work. We are involved in local meetings to get people more aware we are involved,” Flay said in an interview.

He added that he designed the intern position as “a dream for someone who wants to work in the restaurant” business. That’s what junior Patrick McCormic, an international affairs major who plans to pursue a career in food or sports marketing, hopes to get from the experience.

McCormic, who earns college credit and $8.25 for the position, mostly performs marketing tasks for the restaurant, including contributing to its Tumblr, serving as a brand ambassador and organizing on-campus community service projects.

For their first project, McCormic and his colleagues conducted a community survey to find out what students think about Bobby’s Burger Palace, and if they take part in one of the restaurant’s signature features – “crunchifying” burgers.

“Bobby is really interested to see what students want and think about Bobby’s Burger Palace and what burgers they like,” McCormic said. “Do they know about our money crunch discount? Do they know that [Bobby’s] accepts GWorld?”

McCormic first heard about the internship through GWork and Facebook, and wanted to help promote the brand and his international affairs degree inspired him to pursue marketing.

Plus, he said, “they pay in burgers.”

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Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 1:33 p.m.

Top 5 dishes from Taste of D.C.

Taste of D.C., an annual festival that draws thousands, shut down parts of Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday and Sunday. Erica Christian | Contributing Photo Editor

Taste of D.C., an annual festival that draws thousands, shut down parts of Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday and Sunday. Erica Christian | Contributing Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet reporters David Harvey and Ashlyn Frassinelli.

Taste of D.C. is one of the best culinary conventions on the East Coast. Local chefs from the region come together for a day and charge $ 1-3 to sample their dishes. Here are the top five delectable dishes you should check out.

Thai Lamb Curry from Border Spring Farm. Erica Christian | Contributing Photo Editor

Thai Lamb Curry from Border Spring Farm. Erica Christian | Contributing Photo Editor

1. Thai Lamb Curry from Border Spring Farm: This chili-like sweet yellow curry is complemented by tender lamb that melts in your mouth. It is almost like a soup bahraini, with complex subtle curry flavors such as cumin and ginger. Chef Frank Paris also raises the lamb locally in Patrick Springs, Va.. In addition to the killer curry, the booth also featured  lamb tacos and lamb sliders – the best lamb I have ever had. You can find this lamb at Union Market or Fresh Market at Penn Quarter.

2. Navy Bean Pie from Nutrition Synergies: This is the perfect dish for Thanksgiving. This mini pie is made from a navy bean puree that tastes like pumpkin pie flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg. Chef Nadine Bailey-Joyner sells these in farmers markets across D.C. Believing that fresher is always better, Bailey-Joyner focuses on local sustainable produce and uses only in season produce.

Guacamole from the Guacamole Bar. Erica Christian | Contributing Photo Editor

Guacamole from the Guacamole Bar. Erica Christian | Contributing Photo Editor

3. Guacamole from the Guacamole Bar: Guacamole is all about the freshness of the ingredients and this guac didn’t disappoint. It struck the perfect balance between red onions and lime – getting that crunch and sweetness of the onions without the punch. While the dish normally comes with tortilla chips, they used toasted tortilla instead to give the dish a burrito feel.

4. Smoked Gouda and Corn Bread from Olah Bistro: This is great take on your mac’ n’ cheese. The smoked flavor gives the macaroni a kick while the texture of the sweet corn bread provided a strong contrast to  the creamy mac’ n’ cheese. At Olah Bistro’s location on U Street, you can even add Bacon to get more flavor and smoke.

The Cheese and Beef empanada from La Tasca. Erica Christian | Contributing Photo Editor

The Cheese and Beef empanada from La Tasca. Erica Christian | Contributing Photo Editor

5.The Cheese and Beef empanada from La Tasca: Empanadas are a classic Latin American street food. These empanadas featured ground beef and cheese in a puff pastry accompanied by a light smoked paprika. The sauce gave it a good tang and the cheese balanced the rest of ingredients without overpowering a dish.

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The newest Chipotle Mexican-Grill, located in 2000 Penn., officially opened today, with lines out the doors and wrapping around the building.

Chipotle officially opened to all patrons after yesterday’s soft opening, where members of the Programming Council handed out coupons for free burritos to students.

This Chipotle does not accept GWorld, unlike the one located a few blocks off campus at 19th and M streets.

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Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 1:25 p.m.

Chipotle to open Oct. 8

Updated Sept. 30, 2013 at 4:40 p.m.

The Chipotle Mexican-Grill in The Shops at 2000 Penn. will open Oct. 8, a spokeswoman for the restaurant said Monday.

Photo used under the Creative Commons license

Photo used under the Creative Commons license

The restaurant will not accept GWorld, said Beth Hengeveld, a spokeswoman for Chipotle.

The chain’s new location, its 13th in the District, will include 33 seats for a total occupancy of 56. The restaurant signed a lease in December to fill the space formerly occupied by the UPS store and another Mexican eatery, The Burro.

Up until now, the closest Chipotle was at 19th and M streets, and that restaurant accepts GWorld. The burrito and taco eatery also tried to move to campus in 2005, looking to occupy the building that now houses Tonic Restaurant.

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Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011 12:34 p.m.

Scrumptiously Scott: Ceviche

Jordan Emont | Assistant Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet food columnist Scott Figatner.

You don’t need a stove to make a delicious seafood dinner. By marinating diced tilapia and shrimp in an acidic mixture, the seafood flesh actually cooks. Well, it’s not cooking per se, but the denaturing of the proteins mimics the process. With fresh ingredients, the South American dish is perfectly safe. My Peruvian ceviche is both low in calories and high in vitamins and protein. The seafood dish has a tender yet resilient texture, which along with ripe diced avocado, tomatoes and red onion, soaks up the flavor of the marinade, tangy with lime juice and slightly sweet from fresh coconut water. Served in a coconut bowl, the only other perfect accompaniment would be Peru’s national cocktail.

Sneak Peek: Check the blog next week for my take on the pisco sour.

Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • 1 coconut/ ¼ cup coconut water
  • 1 tilapia filet, diced
  • 1/4 pound peeled rock shrimp meat, diced
  • 3/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/8 habañero pepper, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons small-diced tomato
  • 3 tablespoons small-diced red onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, diced

Important: Because the ceviche marinade will only kill surface bacteria, the tilapia and shrimp must be extremely fresh. It is best to prepare the ceviche on the day of purchase.

Directions:

1. To make the coconut bowl, use a screwdriver to make a hole in the base, drain the water and reserve.

2. Place the coconut on a towel in your palm. Use the blunt side of the knife to whack it forcefully where a natural line is visible – be sure to wear protective eye gear. Once a crack forms, continue to pound it until the crack spans its entirety. Pull it apart and fix jagged edges.

3. Generously salt the equally sized tilapia and shrimp cubes and mix with 1/4 cup of the coconut water, the lime juice (with habañero and garlic added), the tomatoes and the red onion. Make sure everything is submerged in the marinade. Refrigerate for 40 minutes, mixing at least once.

4. Generously salt to taste and add avocado and chopped cilantro. Add fresh ground black pepper. Scoop into the coconut bowl, draining the ceviche of excess marinade. Serve immediately as it will continue to cook.

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Jordan Emont | Assistant Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet food columnist Scott Figatner.

Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers
2436 18th St., NW

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, Mellow Mushroom has come to town!

Straight ahead, hand-painted trapeze artists perform acrobatics on a patchy brick wall. To the right, poster-like images of circus freaks are inset in a wall of distressed wood, outlined with jazzy marquis lights.

Up above, a comical sculpture of a strongman – lifting a barbell with rotating Ferris wheels in the place of weights – balances precariously on a high wire atop a makeshift chandelier of iron weights and a glowing globe.

This circus is only the first floor of Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers’ newest location in Adams Morgan.

The ringmaster, owner Amit Mehta, 30, opened the restaurant with his sister Pooja Oct. 17.

“What’s unique about this Mellow Mushroom is our decoration,” said Mehta, who themed the eatery around a traveling circus while keeping the Adams Morgan vibe in mind.

This venue has been complimented for its unique design, which stands apart from the other of the chain’s 100 plus locations.

Mehta said the second floor was designed to look like the Big Top Circus’ backstage area. Ticket stubs spill across one wall while another displays mock circus animal crates that read, “Live Animals.”

But don’t worry; the food is equally as impressive as the décor. Mehta described it as “homey and unpretentious” and made with “good, natural ingredients.”

For the first act, off the “Munchies” menu, I tried a boat-sized loaf of garlic butter-basted cheesy bread, $5.75, which hit the spot when dipped in a special sauce as red as Bozo’s nose.

Act two was a jerk chicken hoagie for $6.95. Although half-size, it was full of flavor with sautéed mushrooms and green peppers, chunks of pineapple, tomatoes, spinach and feta. A pesto sauce with a fresh-from-the-market taste helped moisten the slightly dry chicken.

For the grand finale – drum roll, please – The Man-Eating Pizza! Okay, it was just myself consuming a 10-inch pie. For $13.95, we could taste two pizzas on one pie, made to order from dough sweetened with molasses and baked on a white pizza stone for extra crispiness.

The Philosopher’s Pie, normally $13.95 for a 10-inch pie, was a showstopper with steak slices blanketed by provolone and topped with Portobello mushrooms, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, feta and mozzarella surrounded by a parmesan-coated crust. The Magical Mystery Tour, $13.50 for a 10-inch pie, is a pesto-based pie with mozzarella sun dried tomatoes, spinach, Roma tomatoes and feta. The pie is finished with a psychedelic “pesto swirl.”

With a bar on each of the restaurant’s three levels, 24 beers on tap and 40 bottled varieties, Mellow Mushroom has enough beer to quench a rowdy troupe of circus performers. Heck, send in the clowns.

A spacious rooftop seating area with 12 tables and an indoor bar is a charming place to eat and enjoy the view of 18th Street. Mehta said he plans to add more lighting and a tent to contain heat from the lamps. The added space makes Mellow Mushroom one of the biggest restaurants on the street, with enough space for 210 customers.

Open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, Mellow Mushroom is an exciting place to appease the late-night munchies. With a remarkable atmosphere and the food to back it up, Mellow Mushroom is no dog and pony show.

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