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.

Maman: NYC’s Newest Charming French Café

Located right in between SoHo and Chinatown, Maman is easy to miss, situated a fair distance away from the bustle of Broadway shopping and the Chinatown markets. This casual French café serves all its food in convenient to-go boxes and just opened a few weeks ago. Despite this and its location, when I stepped in for a quick lunch, the place was pretty packed.

Just because the café is designed for take-away food doesn’t mean they’ve sacrificed quality. Quite the opposite, in fact. By limiting their menu to a few selections per day (which you can track on their Facebook page until the website is fully functioning), they’re able to use fresh, local ingredients to make large batches of delicious food all ready to serve.

Walking into the café, you’re met with rustic, whimsical décor (case in point: the amazing rabbit vase below), large bowls of fresh salad, and cases filled with warm pastries. Coffee and espresso drinks are a bit pricey but nothing too shocking compared to Starbucks, with a regular drip coffee costing $2.50 and a latte around $4. The real bargain here are the quiches and tartinettes, which start at $6 and peak at just $8.

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Now, the food itself. While the menu does change every day, there seem to be a few mainstays, at least for this season. I opted for the smashed avocado tartinette and a lemon-thyme madeleine with an iced coffee (price wasn’t listed, but it ended up being $4—a bit much, but well worth getting to use one of the adorable blue and white-striped straws!).
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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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The Restaurant at the Getty: A Mountaintop Gem

I’m a total museum geek. I’m also a huge foodie. When the two mix, I’m pretty much in heaven no matter what. But when I went to The Restaurant at the Getty Museum during my stay in Los Angeles, I was completely blown away. I ate there with my best friend and my grandma, and the three of us immediately fell in love with this peaceful yet playful foodie paradise on a mountaintop.

What kind of restaurant is it? What’s the price point? 

The Restaurant serves modern American cuisine at moderate prices. If you want to eat at the Getty but don’t want to splurge on a meal, there are also several other cafes and dining carts all over the grounds. But, spoiler alert, The Restaurant is totally worth it.

How’s it look? Describe the restaurant’s aesthetic, any notable features, etc. First impressions.

For those who have never been to the Getty, it’s high up in the mountains. You actually have to take a short tram ride uphill to get to the museum. There are gorgeous views of Los Angeles no matter where you are on the museum grounds, but the views from The Restaurant are some of the best. The designers definitely took note of that and ensured that wherever you sit in the dining room, you can see the stunning landscape right from your table.

Like the rest of the museum, The Restaurant was primarily white and totally immaculate, but decals on the walls and small succulents at each table lent the space fun pops of color that made the whole space seem more fun. I honestly could have sat in the restaurant all day, enjoying the food, the views, and the light classical music playing in the background for hours.

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A Fresh Meal at Santa Monica’s True Food Kitchen

When I was visiting my friend in LA, I asked her what restaurant I absolutely had to go to during my stay. She immediately responded with “True Food.” After just looking up the menu online, I knew then and there I was in love. And once I actually arrived, True Food Kitchen did not disappoint. Here’s the details:

What kind of restaurant is it? What’s the price point? 

True Food Kitchen in Santa Monica is a health-conscious, organic restaurant that serves modern American food, often with a healthy or gluten-free twist. True Food looks to be developing into a small-scale chain, with its newest location opening up in Fairfax, VA (I can’t even express how excited I am), but that doesn’t seem to have any impact on the food. As for the price, it’s pretty average, with dishes ranging from $10-$20.

How’s it look? Describe the restaurant’s aesthetic, any notable features, etc. First impressions.

This place is massive. With high ceilings, oversized lighting, and bright colors, it makes quite the first impression. Despite the slightly industrial look, you’re reminded of True Food’s commitment to fresh, local ingredients in small details around the restaurant. From the fresh herbs and the list of seasonal, locally grown foods used to the bright green plants just about everywhere, the entire space feels refreshing and homey.

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How’s the wait staff? Are they attentive, good with kids, fast?
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A Brief Visit to Los Angeles: Santa Monica, the Getty, and Beverly Hills

I just got back from my first-ever trip to Los Angeles and I can easily say I’m in love. Between the beautiful scenery at the Getty, the great little shops in Santa Monica, and, of course, the amazing food everywhere, LA didn’t disappoint. Being an East Coast city girl, the constant driving was the only thing that made me feel out of my element, although it did allow ample time for staring at gorgeous landscapes and some of LA’s famous spots!

Hope you enjoy some of the photos from the trip that I couldn’t resist sharing. Check back soon for more detailed reviews (and more photos!) of the hotels and restaurants I visited.

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The Weekly Favorites: Cat cafés, waterfalls, and cherry pie dip (7/18–7/26)

Another week has passed and it’s time for more amazing articles from around the web. Check out our favorites!

Photo of the Week: Park Avenue, NYCpark

Travel

A Day in a Cat Café in Seoul, South Korea (Just One Way Ticket)
Any cat lover who can’t make it over to South Korea can live vicariously through Sab’s cat café experience that includes an adorable video documenting all the kitties. Now if only they’d make a dog café…

Stepping Back in Time in Mantua, Italy (Ordinary Traveler)
Whether you’re a Shakespeare superfan, love anything Italian, or just want to look at some beautiful pictures, check out this picture-heavy post on one of Italy’s most historic towns.

Friday Postcards from Snoqualmie Falls (Walking on Travels)
More really gorgeous photos, this time of a waterfall near Salish Lodge and Spa in Washington.

Food

Creamy Cherry Pie Fruit Dip with Rainbow Fruit Kebobs (Oh She Glows)
Yes, this is a thing. Especially good if you have any picky eaters in the family—what better incentive to eat fruit than cherry pie dip?

Mini Quiche Recipe (Add a Pinch)
These adorable mini quiches are great for pretty much anything (especially brunch!) and are easy to make.

Lifestyle

The Culture of Clean: Soap in Art (Into the Gloss)
Attention clean freaks! A look at the use of soap in art and design through the ages, from nineteenth century portraits to soap bubble lamps.

Remote working, Teleworking, Coworking: How to Make the Most of Your Atypical Job (The DC Ladies)
Even if you don’t have an atypical job and unlimited vacation days, this is still an interesting read—we can only hope that this lax, out-of-office style of working will only become more popular!

Budget Finds on the Upper East Side

No, “budget” and “Upper East Side” in the same sentence isn’t an oxymoron. When most people think of the UES, they imagine rich old people in tailored suits, designer storefront after designer storefront, and, of course, Gossip Girl. But once you go east past 5th Avenue and head into Yorkville territory, the UES is a very different place.

After ogling at all the stunning high end fashion along 5th and Madison, head a few blocks over to find these great spots that offer the quality you’d expect from the UES for a fraction of the cost.

 

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O Merveilleux
$3 for a great, authentic croissant? Yes please. Just the facade of this cute cafe is adorable—you can spot its yellow and white striped awning from blocks away. At least stop by to look at all the beautiful pastries on display. Small bites are as cheap as $1-$2.20, so be armed with cash: there’s a $10 credit card minimum.

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Dos Toros
This place has been lauded as a Chipotle counterpart and is working hard to destroy the stereotype that New York doesn’t have any good Mexican food. With $4 tacos, $7 quesadillas, and $8.50 massive burritos, it’s cheaper than Chipotle. The down side? Chips and salsa are not free; they’ll set you back $2.07.

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A Second Chance
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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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