Monday, July 22, 2013

ZooFari


This post may be long overdue, but it’s about time I came back to blogging with a bang – and what foodie event does that better than dining with live animals. ZooFari, an event at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. invites local restaurants to offer samples of their best dishes to local businesses owners, distributors, journalists, food bloggers and general food fanatics. With such a tough crowd, you can imagine the foods these restaurants have to offer. It’s all their best items ready to be shoved into the mouths of hungry animals (human, that is). Prime rib? Yes. Oysters? Yes. More than one hundred of the area's finest restaurants, including Graffiato, Citronelle, Masa 14 and Zengo, to name a few. It was a feast guests are meant to remember for a long time.

Despite leaving stuffed and with a list of new places to try, there were a few things I learned at ZooFari I’ll use again at similar foodie festivals. These strategic tactics may be hard to follow as a first-timer, but once you read them you’ll understand why they’re so important to getting the most out of your foodie opportunity:

#1) Don’t wait in line: If your festival is anything like ZooFari there will be hundreds of booths to try, so don’t get stuck waiting the whole night in line for chips and guacamole just because it’s closest to the entrance. Keep going and you’ll find loads of other offers with no line.
#2) Avoid anything with too much bread (i.e. pizza, pita, buns): These will do nothing for your taste buds and serve only to fill you up faster than you say, “oven roasted grouper in a hot tamale sauce.”
#3) Sacrifice the mainstream fast food: Bertucci's may be delicious, but you can order that anytime you want. Treat yourself to the most exotic, rare foods that you don’t always get to try!
Now, I’m off to research upcoming foodie events. 

Anyone have any tips on getting the most out of a foodie festival?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Panas Empanadas

After missing the Dupont Circle Farmers Market by just a few minutes (they close at 1pm!), John and I were disappointed and hungry. We had literally stepped into the market only a few feet behind the girl who rings the cowbell to let everyone know the stalls are closing.

Leaving with both empty stomachs and empty grocery bags, we walked down P street in search of an afternoon snack. But just by chance we stumbled upon a delicious lunch at Panas Gourmet Empanadas.

This quick-eats restaurant is so cute with its modern decor and made-to-order empanadas, that we couldn't resist sharing a combo with plantain chips. Each empanada that they serve is a unique twist on a classic Argentine staple and is about the size of the palm of your hand. There are a number of interesting combinations to choose from and a ton I didn't ever expect to be on this kind of menu: eggplant, onions, red peppers and mozzarella; chipotle steak and onions; shrimp, coconut and cilantro.

One thing that impressed me most about Panas was how they identify what's inside each empanada before you even take a bite. Since people tend to order a handful at a time, and since they all look the same on the outside, each corner is stamped with letters indicating what's inside. So for example, the Carne empanada is marked with the letters CA so everyone knows it has beef, green olives, Spanish peppers, hard boiled egg, onions and parsley inside (they give you a key, so people like me don't have to stress about which letters mean what kind... I liked that).

I really thought the restaurant had a unique idea with their modern decor, tasty combinations and useful stamping technique. If you're ever in the neighborhood I would definitely recommend stopping by. You're bound to find a new kind of empanada that you'll come back for again and again.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Crepes in the City

While exploring the U street neighborhood, I found this small restaurant called Point Chaud Cafe at 14th and S. What really lures you inside are the crepes cooking in the window for everyone on the sidewalk to see.

Inside the restaurant, it's both cozy and modern, yet still has a neighborhood feel. You order at the counter and minutes later they're brought to your table. The menu lists a great selection of savory and sweet crepes, which come inside a whole wheat or regular pancake, but you can also customize your own.

To give you a taste of what they serve, I had the, "DC Brunch Special" which was turkey, cheese, eggs, mushrooms, avocado and tomatoes. It was delicious. Their sweet crepes are amazing as well -- how does a Chocolate, Blueberry, Blackberry, Strawberry & Raspberry crepe topped with whipped cream sound to you?

As if that wasn't enticing enough, the prices are great too. A cheese crepe with Swiss, Cheddar, Monterrey Jack, Ricotta or Feta is only $4.50! Their coffee is also the cheapest around at $2.00 (it's the Italian brand, Illy, which they advertise on the door of the cafe).

I seriously recommend this place if you're looking for a different, delicious kind of brunch in the city. Stop peering inside, and go check it out!