China Chilcano, José Andres’ new Chinese-Peruvian spot

Not to brag, but my two toddlers eat aioli and mussels.  The only credit I can claim is taking them to Jaleo almost every Sunday.  Jose Andres: fun food and dining!

So, I was quite excited to hear about Jose’s latest concept China Chilcano, a Chinese-Peruvian restaurant in DC’s Penn Quarter.

As Tom Sietsema wrote in his first bite, it’s hard to get a table. Luckily, China’s manager came from our regular spot, Jaleo.  Another reason to like Jose: he treats regulars well.

We are early eaters (our toddlers never sleep) and arriving around 5:45 p.m., I was surprised to see standing room only at the bar and the restaurant hopping.

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There was lots of energy in the room.  We were seated at a booth with a great view of the dim sum and ceviche station.

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The Good Stuff:

We tried two cocktails: Chilcano & Cholotini – boy was the “tini” our favorite: fruity without being overly sweet.

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Followed by the HaKoe Dumplings and Pollo Antichucas:

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Now the star of the evening was the Longasta Kung Fu. Mr. Longasta was presented to us, but it didn’t take long for him to bid adieu.

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The before and after.
It’s a messy dish, especially if you are determined like me to leave not a morsel of meat left in the shells. (A hot towel after this dish would have been nice.)

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The Seco de Res – this stewed pork cheek was our favorite Peruvian dish.
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Finally, we finished with with two desserts: Supsiro Limena & Yan Wo Soup.  The Supsiro is the way to go: a sweet condensed milk custard with added texture from crunchy meringues .

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We cannot wait to go back and take the toddlers – maybe turn them on to new cuisine.

Disclaimer: Part of our meal was complimentary, but I hope you’ll find that I didn’t influence my opinion.

Daniel Boulud Returns to DC with DBGB

I love French food.

So when Daniel Boulud’s casual French-American restaurant DBGB opened last month, I wasted no time in getting a reservation. Chef Boulud spent a few years in DC during the early 80’s. He’s finally returned to open his 15th restaurant.

Displayed on the walls are plates decorated by over 100 chefs, including the likes of Dominique Ansel, April Bloomfield, and Anthony Bourdain (check out a more detailed breakdown of the plates here). They were definitely a highlight of our conversation. We were seated at a table, but I recommend requesting a booth.

Service started out slowly, but the real reason we were there made up from that:

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How does one not order wine made just miles away from the chef’s home in France?

Boudin blanc to start (there are several sausages to sample). But when in a Boulud restaurant, go with the traditional presentation.

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Breast of duck with horseradish and beets, which were a nice complement.
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A Birthday Weekend at the Georgetown Ritz-Carlton Hotel

Washington, DC: the heart of American politics and power. But the city is not all government, museums and buses loaded with tourists.

One of DC’s Ritz-Carlton hotels is located in the heart of Georgetown, which combines a thriving nightlife with the historic charm of buildings from the 1700s. Within walking distance from great restaurants and shops, this was a great choice for our in-town getaway.

Planning/Reservations

Online reservation was easy. About a week out from our arrival, Elizabeth from hotel reservations personally emailed me to inquire about our stay. I took the opportunity to inform her of hub’s birthday and requested an early check-in. She said that they were fully committed the evening before but would do their best.

Impressions Matter!

We arrived pretty early (8:30 a.m.-ish) and the front desk manager greeted us at the door.

I really do like check in at this hotel. Danny brought us over to a desk to be seated. No standing in a line! So civilized–more hotels should adopt this policy.

Over the weekend, we saw the same front desk staff the entire time and were addressed by name. Really wonderful.

Danny mentioned hub’s birthday and immediately offered us mimosas. We had quite a late night before and declined. Still, he insisted on us having a complimentary breakfast.

Now to my favorite part of the hotel: the lobby, which would more accurately be described as “the living room”. It’s a wonderful warm space to relax, read a book, or grab a drink.

After our wonderful breakfast, the room was ready.

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Our room was located in the East Wing (which I preferred) on the 4th floor. We had a lovely view of Georgetown.

The bed was wonderful and the bathroom was spacious with separate shower and soaking tub. Asbury bath amenities were provided, including salts for the tub!
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Sitting Down with Nevin Martell, Author of Travel Memoir “Freak Show Without a Tent”

Nevin Martell Courtesy of Photographer Scott Suchman

Nevin Martell, courtesy of photographer Scott Suchman

 

From Ship to Shore‘s Hannah Josi recently sat down with Freak Show Without a Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations author and prolific D.C. food writer Nevin Martell to talk crazy travel adventures, D.C. food culture, and writing tips.

HJ: Thanks for meeting with me. I really, really enjoyed the book. It was wonderful how it wasn’t just a travel book—it was a coming of age story…Now, you end your book when you’re in your 30s with your dad, but in the chapter before that, you were seventeen. So, in the space in between, what were you up to? You mentioned a couple of trips—did your travel continue into your twenties or did it kind of fall to the wayside?

NM: When I went to college and then moved to New York City I had, at first, fewer chances to travel but that was just because I was a broke kid out of college with his first job trying to make his way in the world. It kind of picked up steam, though, as I got a little bit older in my mid- to later-twenties. I went to Cuba with my father and my sister, and I got a chance to go to Finland, and I had a chance to go to Costa Rica a couple times, and I had a chance to go to Mexico a couple of times. I tried to travel somewhere new internationally at least once, about twice, a year. That was kind of my goal, and, you know, for the most part I was able to follow that philosophy…

My wife and I, when we first got engaged, we ended up in Honduras, in the Bay Islands, and we tried to travel a lot, up until we had our child a year and a half ago—you know, we’re waiting to take our first big trip with him. He’s been to California a couple times, he’s been all over the East Coast, but we’re just gearing up for the right international opportunity. But, um, no, in the in-between years, I would say my love of travel grew and, you know, I was always just looking for the best way to make that happen and the most feasible way…

Now that I’m in this new stage as a father, it was interesting writing the book because I look at the way my family traveled as a kid, and then think like, “Okay, how do I want to do this with my own child and wife, and where would that take us, and would we go to some of the same places that my dad took my family? And, if so, would we do the same things?” Probably not, but how could we do them in the right way for us? So travel is something that’s been super important, and it’s something that I can’t wait to introduce my son to, because travel was always something amazing for me, and I think he’ll really appreciate it, too. I definitely think it’s important for forming a world view.

HJ: So once your son does grow up a little bit and he is able to travel more, do you think that you’ll kind of go the route of your father and try to go to these really exotic, authentic, crazy places—for those who haven’t read the book, Nevin’s been to Fiji, Venezuela…all over. Do you think you’ll go that route or are you going to play more by the book?

NM: I think it’s going to be somewhere in the middle. I’m certainly not going to be a pre-packaged, Club Med kind of guy, ever. You know, that doesn’t really have any appeal for me…But by the same token, do I necessarily want to take my son fishing for piranhas and things like that? Maybe not. I would love to show him some of the far corners of the world, and I would love to introduce him to some really lesser-known elements of the world, but I want to do it in a way that—no offense to my dad—is a slightly saner way to doing it.

For example, top of the bucket list are like Morocco—I would love to do that. But really top of the bucket list is my wife’s home country Ghana, which I haven’t visited either. So, I would love to take him there, introduce him to his relatives…spend some time in West Africa. But then I would like to do some crazy things, like…since I was a little kid I always wanted to go to Stonehenge, for example. I think that would be something fun. I’ve always wanted to go to Easter Island, which I know is not the most practical of destinations because it’s literally the most remote point on Earth, but I think, again, it’s something he would really enjoy. I think it’s going to be somewhere in the middle, probably closer to my dad than I’m probably thinking, but as I say in the book, more airbags, more seat belts, more helmets.

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HJ: When it comes to actually going out there, finding the right spot to vacation, finding that nice balance between authentic but visitor-friendly, do you have any advice?
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A Backyard Bistro: Celebrating Summer with a Homemade Rooftop Meal

Reading Elaine Sciolino’s piece on Paris bistros made me long to hop a flight across the Atlantic. Sciolino’s description of her favorite gems got me lost in the reverie, longing for fresh scenery and yearning for new experiences. Little did I know that our usual “Saturday date night” would surpass my earlier daydreams.

The setting: The official start to summer was spent on our friends’ beautiful rooftop of a historical Old Town townhouse. It was so relaxing that both my husband and I felt we were miles away from our daily lives.

The food: Blown away. If I only knew the chef was this good, I would have tried to score an invitation much, much sooner. We had traditional Cassis cocktail and smoked fish canapés to start. First course was a salmon carpaccio with unpasteurized salmon roe and a watercress soup. Our host revealed that he had befriended the owner of a local Russian gourmet shop, who shared her behind the counter goods with him.

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Main course: snapper with roasted tomatoes and baby potatoes—so simple but the ingredients were flavorful and fresh.

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