A few weeks ago, I stopped into Cork Market to buy provisions for a good panini. While there, I was greeted by Sarah of Gordy’s Pickle Jar, offering free samples of some of her pickles.

We got to talking, and Sarah explained that they had recently won second prize at the International Pickle Festival, and that they made their pickles right off of U Street. Intrigued, I met up with them last night to talk food in DC, pickles and U Street.

Both Sarah and her business partner, Sheila, live in the U Street neighborhood. Sheila has worked at Marvin (and now Blackbyrd Warehouse) since it opened back in 2007. Blackbyrd is now featuring their relish in a few dishes.

They launched their pickle business at a friend’s wedding in October, giving out pickle jars as wedding favors. The pickles were such a hit they decided to start selling online, and in a few area stores (you can pick them up at Smucker’s Farms and Cork Market in the U Street corridor). Soon they began selling to a few restaurants: you can get their fried pickle chips at Science Club. They are also selling their brine to a lot of area bars for cocktails.

Gordy’s Pickle Jar is named after Sarah’s late father – an affectionate tribute to a pickle lover.

As spring comes along, expect to see Gordy’s at a few area farmer’s markets, as well as some more interesting pickles. While winter has limited them a little bit (they try their best to just use local produce) they are looking forward to experimenting more as more produce becomes in season. The next thing they are working on is pickled fruit, they are currently experimenting on a few recipes.

And, if you want to get really experimental – Peregrine will be featuring their brine in their February drink – appropriately named “Love Potion Number Brine.” Sarah and Sheila assured me that it tasted really good, and the savoriness of the espresso was really cut by the refreshing quality of the brine. Check it out!

U Wine and Beer

U Wine and Beer

Do you shop at U Wine and Beer? It’s owned by Steve Tekle, who also owns the Dollar Store across the street. Sounds like a completely unremarkable place, but I appreciate it because the owner’s always friendly, the beer and wine choices are solid, and Steve knows who I am. (Does it say something that the two business owners in the neighborhood who know me own a bar and a liquor store? Nah, I don’t think so).

Steve is uber-friendly, I soon learned that while he was born in Ethiopia, he’d lived for some time in Sweden before coming to the US in 1999. He always waves hi when I see him walking around the neighborhood, and makes me feel more like U street is my home.

Well now they’re (triumphantly so, they had to fight to get the right license – see above link) holding wine tastings with different wines each Friday from 5 -8 pm, and if you decide to buy one of the wines you taste, you get 10% off. Helped tremendously when trying to pick what wine to serve with dinner the other night.

Eatonville Restaurant, soon to open

Eatonville Restaurant, soon to open

Walking up 14th street the other day, I saw that Eatonville Restaurant to open on 14th and V, by the owners of Busboys and Poets, had/is having a competition to determine who will be the executive chef of the restaurant. The restaurant is an homage to Zora Neale Hurston, the writer who was good friends with Langston Hughes, who of course Busboys and Poets celebrates. Zora Neale Hurston grew up in Eatonville, FL, the first incorporated African-American town in the country.

Busboys and Poets, and the City Paper’s Young and Hungry blog have been chronicling the chef search. There have been three rounds, chronicled here, here, and here. The finalists were Trent Conry, Rusty Holman, Dennis Clark, Chris Newsome, Jacques Ford, and Jason Tepper. Top Chef finalist Carla Hall (a U street girl favorite), owner Andy Shallal, and Mike Curtin from DC Central Kitchen were the judges. Apparently a winner has been chosen but their name has not been announced yet, and will be announced at a later date in the City Paper. I’ll be sure to update once the chef’s name has been announced.

The restaurant is said to open in either April or May of this year. Should be exciting, another Southern soul-food focused restaurant in the area (will be interesting to see how it contrasts with the food at Next Door, and to a degree, Marvin).

Dark 'n stormy, courtesy of Matt Feifarek, Flickr

Dark 'n' stormy, courtesy of Matt Feifarek, Flickr

My favorite summer drink? No, scratch that, my favorite drink? Dark ‘n’ Stormy. Dark rum, ginger beer, some lime, and it’s heaven. The best rendition I’ve tasted? Over at Creme on U street. Also, their shrimp and grits are divine. I barely ever order anything BUT their shrimp and grits because they are so good it just doesn’t make sense to eat anything else. And have you tried their coconut cake? Amazing, and I don’t even like coconut that much.

I really like the service, the atmosphere, and obviously the food. I find it a great place to get dinner on a weeknight and also to stop in get a drink later at night and be able to hear your companions talk. And their brunch, when you can actually get a seat (yes there is usually a crowd outside before they open) is fabulous as well.

And of course, I like that it’s a locally-owned restaurant by two chefs who are there to cook. It’s one of my go-to places to get dinner in the ‘hood. So stop on by if you haven’t made it there yet.

A regular feature in which I spotlight local businesses.

Etete, courtesy of Pedro Alcocer

Etete, courtesy of Pedro Alcocer

My first taste of Ethiopian food was at Etete. While I might be quite an eater now (and some may say a bit of a foodie) in college, not so much. I don’t know whether it was of necessity or by choice, but a typical dinner usually included pizza, spaghetti in marinara sauce or maybe a chicken stirfry. I’ve broadened my tastes since then, and when I moved to U street in 2007 I knew I needed to try Ethiopian. Reading that Etete had made it to the WaPo’s dining guide, I chose that as my first foray into the cuisine. It’s totally converted me as an Ethiopian food lover.

What I love is the versatility of the cuisine, how it can be perfect for a meat eater or a vegetarian. How filing it is, and how tasty it is, spicy but not overwhelmingly so. It works on a cold night or on a summer day. And it’s difficult to spend more than $30 on a dinner for two, mostly because the food is so filling.

After going to Etete I’ve tried other Ethiopian in my area (which can be known as little Ethiopia). I still like Etete the most. Maybe it’s because it is a bit sleeker than the other Ethiopian restaurants in the area, maybe it’s because I had a really nice first date there, but I also like the food the most.

A regular feature in which I spotlight local businesses.