Starting this weekend, DC Marketplace will open in the parking lot at 14th and W, across the street from Fast Gourmet. For four consecutive weekends, the market place will sell goods from artisan vendors from 10 am to 4 pm Saturdays and Sundays.

Not a ton of info about the vendors on their website, but I understand the food will include onsite prepared foods, and baked goods and various packaged sauces and foods. There will also be some arts and crafts vendors. The vendors will change day to day, so it won’t be the same thing every weekend.

Stop by in the coming weekends and check it out. Nice to have some variety in the local markets in our neighborhood.

You’ve been reading about this event on other blogs, I’m sure, but it’s well worth it for me to repeat the information of a fun event that will benefit a great cause. The 9:30 club will be hosting DC chefs and musicians this Sunday to benefit DC Central Kitchen. For the first time 9:30 club will expand to its exterior, making this the first indoor-outdoor event at 9:30.

Tickets are only $30, which gets you samplings from 18 popular DC restaurants – including U street area favorites Busboys and Poets, Church Key, Commonwealth Gastropub, Cork, Marvin, and Masa 14 (and other U Street Girl faves like Jaleo, Taylor Gourmet, and Sauca). 

 The crowd will also be treated to the sounds of DJ Will Eastman, US Royalty, Bluebrain, Fatback DJs, Beautiful Swimmers and Midnight Kids over the five-hour event.

If you didn’t know, DC Central Kitchen is celebrating its 21st year of combating hunger and creating opportunity. The Kitchen works 365 days a year to provide the area’s neediest people with nutritious food and empower chronically unemployed men and women with the skills they need to get their lives back together. In the past year, 47 men and women, many of them ex-felons, gained jobs through the Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training program.

Cork & Fork

Last night I was invited to a media preview of Cork & Fork, opening Saturday at 14th and Church. I have to say, I wasn’t really expecting much (so close to and similar to Cork Market), but I left really impressed. The store will have wines from the old world and new, as well as a pretty impressive selection of craft beers (they will be the only DC store to carry a beer crafted by Ferrian Adria of El Bulli). They will offer some cheeses, breads, snacks (and soon organic, local eggs). Ani told me that the “fork” really comes in the classes and events they do.

What really impressed me is the Landragin’s passion for food and wine. The store is owned by a mother, father, and daughter who all really care about the quality and integrity of food and wine. I listened as the mother, Anna, told me how she learned to cook and how her philosophy on food evolved. We talked about the importance of seasonal, high quality ingredients. We talked about peasant cooking. She was a pleasure. The Landragin’s were open, warm, and highly knowledgeable. I can tell they bring that level of attention to their wine and food selections.

The store will open on Saturday and they already have a pretty full calendar of events for May. Check back in on their website for more details. And thanks so much to the Landragins for having me!

I spent the long weekend in Philly with the boyfriend, as we clearly needed a vacation after a week off from work (or rather, we had this planned before this). Here are some recommendations based on our trip (limited obviously):

  • To eat: really, really, REALLLY enjoyed Tinto, a tapas/wine bar from Jose Garces (you know, the newest Iron

    La Colombe

    Chef). The food was inventive and so tasty, the service impeccable and down to earth, the wine selection limited to Spain and wonderful. And after all the food we ate I was expecting the bill to be much higher, so I’m starting to believe friends that say Philly is one of the last affordable cities in the east. Also check out Parc (casual French bistro on Rittenhouse Square) and the huge Reading Market (as boyfriend described, Eastern Market on steroids).

  • To drink: La Colombe (coffee, not liquor) – this coffee is good. Really good. We went back twice after enjoying it. Ask for a recommendation if you don’t know what to order (there’s no menu, by the by). As for liquor, I thought you could still smoke in Philly bars, so I wasn’t quite excited to go in (found out later only some bars have smoking exemptions) and ended up just chilling at restaurants for my imbibing pleasure.
  • To see: architecture. There are a lot of great old buildings in Philly. Some of my favorite parts of our weekend were just walking down random streets and seeing a fabulous building, taking a picture, and then reading more about it.
  • To visit: art/literary museums. I like history and all, but I am not a fan of touristy stuff or tours around the

    Great architectural details

    Liberty Bell. Though our stay was short, I really liked the Rosenbach Museum, which houses the Rosenbach’s amazing collection of books/manuscripts (they were book dealers), furniture/knick knacks that would be worth a lot of money on Antique’s Roadshow, and some special exhibits. Also, Philly’s Art Museum has a great collection of American art, especially one of my favorite artists Marcel Duchamp (yes, his Fountain is there).

Check out all of my photos from my trip on my Flickr photostream.

Maryland State House

Maryland State House

For the first time, I took a day trip to Annapolis. What a cute, charming little town. I ended up checking out the Banneker-Douglass Museum, the Maryland State House, the William Paca House and Garden, and a boat tour around the river. A late lunch at 49 West and dinner at O’Leary’s Seafood made the experience all the more pleasant. It was nice wandering down the historic streets, checking out some of the museums, and being a tourist for a little while. And even though I spent a day full of things to do, there are many things I wish to see when I return, such as get a tour of the Naval Academy, check out some of the public parks, and see more of the historic houses. Annapolis is a great little day trip to get out of the city for a day.

See more pictures in my Flickr photostream.

I, like everyone else on Facebook, have been tagged a few notes called “25 random things about me.”  While I find it cute, I wasn’t really compelled to write my own list. However, this morning when I read one of my favorite food blogs, Mighty Appetite, I saw that the blogger Kim O’Donnel had taken that concept and twisted it, she’s written a list of 25 random kitchen things about her. Now that’s my kind of list.  I’ve expanded it beyond the kitchen to be about food, so I could write about my food experiences outside of the kitchen as well. I cut it to 10 because I’m lazy.

  • I’m currently having a love affair with olives. I think I’ve been eating at least 10 a day. I’ve been going through jars at a rapid place and am always ordering them when I eat out. I love restaurants like Jaleo that give you olives to eat in lieu of bread.
  • At the beginning of the spring I buy fresh herbs with all intentions of tending to them and having fresh herbs to cook with through the end of the year. They wilt by the end of the summer.
  • Growing up, my favorite dish was an Italian casserole my dad made: penne, tomato, Italian sausage, and mozzarella cheese. He makes it for me every time I’m home and it makes me oh so happy. However, I’ve never made it for myself.
  • My family has a vegetable garden as well as a few fruit trees and now I miss not having my own fresh eggplants, tomatoes, zucchinis, lettuce, strawberries, blueberries, and pears every summer. The U street farmer’s market is an OK substitute.
  • I’m a sucker for a good, full bodied red wine. Recent favorites have been a Tempranillo from Spain, a Malbec from Argentina, and a Pinotage from South Africa.
  • The Food Network, an old roommate, and my competitive nature forced me to start cooking seriously. I just had to one-up her great creations in the kitchen and match her aspirations to go to cooking school. She took a few classes at Le Academie de Cuisine, I’m still working on it.
  • I’ve had several dining partners over the past few years, and it’s great to have a foodie friend who will go out and try whatever restaurant you’re into. It’s a bummer though, when you’re both broke and can’t afford to go out to the really nice places you want to eat at. That’s where cooking together comes in.
  • I don’t know how to use a charcoal grill. I wish I did, but my father is territorial over the grill or something (must be a man thing) and never taught me how. I think this makes me deficient in someway.
  • I have foodie crushes on Jose Andres, Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, Mark Bittman, and Alton Brown. I recently had a dream where Anthony Bourdain was my boyfriend and I woke up happy. Real life boyfriend did not seem to mind this because he understands my foodie crushes.
  • I used to hate onions, mushrooms, and fish. Now, I’ve given them all a chance and I love onions and most fish. However, I still hate mushrooms.

The Washington Post informs us that Hell’s Kitchen winner, Alexandria native Rahman Harper will be the chef at Next Door. Apparently the original concept for Next Door is changing – once meant to be a relaxed place to get a beer with a half smoke, in the past few weeks the Ali family has decided to make it more “upscale” – while half smokes will still be on the menu, so will ravioli stuffed with turkey, marscapone, and sweet potato.

I don’t know about this. I know it would be silly for Next Door to have a copy cat of Ben’s menu with beer. And I like that the the inside has a different look than Ben’s: cool, inviting, warm, with all of the wood. And I’m fine with changing the menu to offer some other dishes, it only makes sense. But bringing in a quasi-celebrity chef? I’m skeptical.

Beef Tibs, courtesy of Andrea Chiu (Flickr)

Beef Tibs, courtesy of Andrea Chiu (Flickr)

DCist does a review of local Ethiopian restaurant’s tibs dishes, and sort of declares the winners Madjet on U street and Queen Makeda on 9th off of U. Now, I’m more of a kitfo and veggie platter girl myself, but I like tibs, a stir fried or grilled lamb or beef dish, from time to time. I would put however, Etete, my favorite Ethiopian restaurant at the top spot, but DCist didn’t include it in their review (too bad).

Now, I can’t say I’ve ever eaten at either Madjet or Queen Makeda, I tend to stick to Etete for eat in and Dukem for take out. And with all of the choices for Ethiopian in my ‘hood, it’s good to have a few favorites with dishes you know you like, instead of experimenting in what can be some mediocre food, as the DCist reviewer finds out.

Now, what I’d really like to do is cook some Ethiopian food myself, as Dukem’s market sells berbere spices and injera bread. Another post, I guess.

As some might have guessed by my banner on the blog, I’m a devoted Ben’s Chili Bowl fan. I love the food, the atmosphere, and the history of the place. I was one of the most excited to hear that Ben’s had bought the empty retail space next door and was turning it into everyone’s dream, Ben’s with alcohol. If you’ve walked by, you can tell it’s very close to opening, all the furniture is there, even the beer taps are in the bar. Prince of Petworth was able to get a sneak peak into the bar, he says:

The space is very warm and comfortable and a bit more upscale than the original shop next door. Nizam [the co-owner] was sure to explain that “we love Ben’s exactly like it is.” He explained that the new spot is “a chance for the second generation to do something ourselves while paying tribute to Ben’s and keeping Ben’s exactly the way it is.” He also emphasized that Next Door will be a comfortable spot with the same atmosphere as the original Ben’s. “It’s not going to be a trendy place it is going to be about service, friendliness and fun,” said Nizam… While the menu is not finalized, in addition to the traditional Ben’s fare, you’ll likely be able to find wings, nachos, bigger burgers, salads and the possibility of “getting some veggie.s” Nizam explains, “we don’t want to be ‘bougie’ high end, everything at Ben’s is tasty we it to be the same thing here.”

Solid. I’m looking forward to it. It should be open before or a little after the new year.

As a break from the sad news I’ve been reporting about local violence, here’s an interesting post from Mighty Appetite about a geekery of scallops I bet you didn’t know existed. I love scallops, seared, with some great sauce; if I go to a restaurant and seared scallops are on the menu, 9 times out of 10 that’s what I’m ordering. I have, however, never cooked them, mostly because they’re a little too pricey for my tight budget.

Searing scallops, courtesy of Justin Marx (Flickr)

Searing scallops, courtesy of Justin Marx (Flickr)

Guest poster Julia Beizer gives us way more info on scallops, how to buy them, the different kinds, then I ever would have known. A lot of her info comes from BlackSalt fishmonger Scott Weinstein and if you’re a food geek like me, it’s worth the read.

Finally, three lovely-sounding recipes featuring scallops are prepared. The curry-dusted scallops with pea puree sound especially alluring. Man, next time I’m at the grocery store I might have to break my budget for that one indulgent splurge of scallops and try cooking them myself.