Image: Willy Rizzo, Fred Astaire with his daughter (1961).
Dear Gentle Reader, for a bright spring day, a breezy little weekly recap of dining news for you to enjoy. On our site, we let go of Komi and added the entry for Happy Gyro, revisited a spot we probably take for granted. A couple favorites close up shop, and one is closer to returning, a profile of an emerging star, and funding for another one to come, lots of news from the world of wine and spirits, and the continuing legacy of Jacques Pépin’s videos. With that as a tease, let’s proceed!
Updates to D.C. Recommended Restaurant List
Happy Gyro – We didn’t quite add this place as roll over the Komi entry.
Izakaya Daikaya – Still doing good work after a decade.
Comings and Goings:
Tsehay Ethiopian shut down to move locations. They are moving into the vacated Los Cuates in Adams Morgan.
D.C. Dining News
Amanda Michelle Gomez flagged a study that “the instant food delivery industry in the D.C. region poses risks to worker health and safety, subjects workers to unpredictable and variable wages, and requires unpaid work.” More here.
Also crappy, is a con artist pretending to do safety inspections.
A reminder to out-of-towners looking to cash in on the D.C. market, the local diner is not as gullible as you think. If you mail it in, we will return to sender. And we are not convinced the Wharf is a tourist destination. The countdown has started on Hell’s Kitchen.
Profile: Washington City Paper checks in on Paola Velez, who rose to fame as pastry chef at Kith/Kin. Still active with Bakers Against Racism, she has a book coming out, and is doing more social media. “As for what’s next, keep an eye out for information on Dōekï Dōekï, an upcoming Afro Latin pop-up series inspired by her mother, that Velez teased will start in D.C., as a reminder that she’s still in the city she calls home with her husband.”
Media: Big Schlim is apparently going bigger. He set up a Go Fund Me page.
East of the River: The farmers market options in Anacostia are expanding with a new spot at Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum. It will be on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting yesterday.
Across the Industry:
Fiona Beckett in the Guardian looks at what does it mean for the drinks industry to be socially responsible.
Wine Spectator pushes back on how bad alcohol is for you. “These aspects of the study may limit its applicability to the lives of people who mostly or exclusively drink wine, never binge drink and have concerns about their risk of developing particular illnesses—especially cardiovascular disease, which remains the number one cause of death among Americans.”
Maybe the wine industry should not give up on the youths so quickly. “However, a recent report by the International Wine and Spirits Research (IWSR) has noted while that sales have dipped (-2% in 2022) there is renewed momentum with drinkers under 40. While total volumes of wine declined in the U.S. in 2022, the premium-and-above segment grew by 6%, according to preliminary IWSR findings. Participation rates are also up — over the last year, the number of regular wine drinkers grew by 14 million. This momentum comes largely from those under 40, including newly-legal Gen Zs. As the IWSR notes, the wine industry is seeing growing excitement not just from the category’s most engaged consumers (aged 25-54), but also of legal drinking age Gen Z.” Maybe they just don’t want swill.
Wine grapes older than first thought, and not from the Caucusus. Sorry Georgia. “While the earliest archaeological evidence for viticulture comes from 8,000 years ago in the Caucasus, knowledge of early grapevine domestication has remained a puzzle – until now.” Scientists now believe that while, “all modern varieties likely descended from an ancient V. sylvestris ancestor living in much of Eurasia and North Africa throughout the past 400,000 years. In the east, the species split into two varieties: one in the Caucasus and one in an area that may also broadly be described as the Near East. These were the first to be domesticated, at the advent of the Agricultural Revolution, earlier than previously believed.”
Importer and writer Terry Thiese posted about the use of language in wine (a recent topic of interest), he was prompted by Dave McIntyre’s column about Meg Maker’s writing on it. Then he did an interview with Dave about being one of the few staff wine writers left at a daily newspaper. Dave returned the favor and talked to Terry about terroir.
From Clay Risen in the Times: “American single malt may sound like a contradiction in terms and a sin against the venerable traditions of Scottish whiskey making. But the style has been booming over the last decade, with a diversity that reflects the country’s sheer size and its wide variety of climates, traditions and agriculture. In the coming months, the Tax and Trade Bureau, a part of the Treasury Department, will release an official definition of American single malt — the first new spirit category in many years and a recognition that a once-niche whiskey has entered the mainstream.”
ICYMI – but not sure you could have.
Industry: The Post looks at the failure of the business lunch to come back. Workers are only back to in the office at about 50%. The days they are in, they are not looking to take a long lunch. “Restaurant owners who were loath to get into takeout — which is much less lucrative for operators — have been forced to adapt to survive in the new landscape. Innovation in the form of things such as to-go alcohol sales and quick-service ordering technology has become vital for restaurants that once relied primarily on in-person dining.” The story includes a interesting fact about D.C. There are more dining establishments now than in March 2020.
The Times and Boston Globe do stories on Barbara Lynch. Her reputation as a pioneering chef is being eroded by reports of abuse. Woven into the stories are red flags for the industry about drug and alcohol abuse.
Food and Culture:
The Times style magazine T did a “Culture Issue.” Many of the stories revolve around food. The issue includes many short interviews with pairs of accomplished women, where the magazine “asked 33 mid- and late-career female artists and creative people (the majority of them over 45) to identify a younger female artist who inspires them.”
Two chefs from Mexico City who carved out space for what they thought was good. Gabriela Cámara, of Contramar and Monica López Santiago of Caracol and Itacate. “I’m looking forward to working with Monica on our next project and seeing her come into her own voice. I only realized I had a voice by working with other people who could identify it with me. For now, she’s still trying to please me, but I’m always asking about her recipes and her process. That creates a space of trust. In food, tasting is dialogue. It’s the language we speak.”
Ruth Rogers of River Cafe and playwright Nina Raine: “There are a lot of parallels between what she and I do. Restaurants are full of a controlled sort of drama. Nina picked up on that and later wrote a play set in one [“Service,” 2001]. She’s also collaborative — if I have to write something, she’s the one I call.”
Madhur Jaffrey, actress and author, and Michelle Zauner, musician and author of Crying in H Mart: “What I’ve noticed is that we’re both people who are interested in different types of creative media and pursue them with genuine interest and sincerity.”
Then there is this crazy story about a gathering of bakers in France. “Late last year, to celebrate the end of her two-continent book tour, Kratochvila invited several of the bakers featured in the book to meet her in the village of Saint-Aubin-de-Luigné, in the Loire Valley of France, and make bread at the bakery and farm of her mentor, Franck Perrault, 46. The idea was to exchange ideas and experiment with Perrault’s flours, with each of the nine bakers (including Kratochvila) showcasing at least one new loaf.”
There are two other stories about special meals. A Seder in Brooklyn: “In addition to cooking a multicourse dinner, it requires leading a retelling of the Passover story — which details the Jewish exodus from bondage in Egypt — and preparing special foods like a chopped fruit and nut mixture called haroseth. As well as those traditional elements, the Geyman-Seftel gathering, like many Seders, also included creative touches born out of family customs, the tastes and talents of their guests and the realities of hosting a 13-person dinner in a 700-square-foot apartment.”
A surrealist meal for the team that made a Netflix series about rescuing intellectuals out of Vichy France. “The result was an eclectic and colorful table setting that included feathers and flowers in glass vessels and a white paper tablecloth for drawing on.”
Odds & Ends:
EU destroys Miller High Life for claiming to be the Champagne of Beers. Wonder if this is in retaliation for the Gruyère ruling.
Alors, that is it for this week. We are off next week. In the meantime, you know the drill!