Image: Royal Charles Steadman, Prunus Persica: Champion (Peach). From USDA watercolor collection.
Dearest Gentle Reader, as the last days of summer approach, we have buckled down. We posted twice this week. News of the dining world is slim, but we hope what we have included in this week’s roundup is interesting. So shall we proceed?
Updates to the D.C. Recommended Restaurant List
Joselito Casa de Comidas – Fun Spanish on Capitol Hill.
Bistrot Lepic – Old school French in Georgetown
D.C. Dining News
Jessica Sidman reports in the Washingtonian about alleged racism and hostile management problems at Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen. Even more disturbing, Sidman flagged that in response many said the practices described are not uncommon in other restaurants.
A story indicating how far Union Market has strayed from being an actual market or that the development has created a critical mass of customers: it will get a farmers market soon.
The new food hall at International Square opened. The 12% fee seemed to aggravate a bunch of people. We got so used to tipping that we didn’t realize that its purpose was to pay a percentage of restaurant costs (for tipping it is front of house labor). Now fees are making explicit what was obscured, and people are shocked that they have to pay the full cost of what it takes to provide a meal. Is a stand-alone fee the right way? The most efficient way? We don’t know, but the industry is trying to sort out how best to deal with a variety of factors including labor costs. There remains a surplus of whining and a lack of patience and understanding.
Food & Culture:
The microbakery that ramps up for the High Holy Days.
Washington City Paper has a story using Hispanic Heritage Month as a hook to talk about the talented crafters of cocktails with Latin American roots in the region. But the story is also interesting because it is an original story in the Food section of WCP. They also did a short Young & Hungry wrap up of stories around the region, but could only come up with four.
Tom makes clear something that has been implied recently, saying that he will do multiple visits when writing a review of an established place, especially if he has a negative experience. For what he calls “previews” and used to be called “First Bites” he does not go as many times. He also has been going in the very first days/weeks that new places open, whereas traditionally the practice was to wait until a place has their legs underneath them. The Post, however, does not distinguish between the two types of write-ups anymore. Whether it is Jaleo or a new spot, they are just called “reviews.” This seems like the opposite of what should be happening.
Beer: Denizen’s is closing its Silver Spring location. It is a sad news story wrapped in a larger good news story. “The decision to close the Silver Spring taproom is mostly because the original ten-year lease ends in October and the landlord wants to renew for another ten-year term. Denizens tried to negotiate a shorter term for renewal, but the landlord would not budge. After the uncertainty of the last few years, Per Silver Spring native, co-founder, and chief brand officer Julie Verratti, Denizens is not interested in signing a ten-year lease again. They also stopped brewing in Silver Spring in early 2022. These factors coupled with the much larger Riverdale Park production space just six miles away, made the decision straightforward for the business.”
Vinography flagged a couple stories about the expanding community in the beverage world. Forming a collective in the East Bay, and building a queer community in California wine through visibility.
We forgot to include the big wine news of the last couple weeks: “E. &. J. Gallo’s Luxury Wine Group announced the acquisition of yet another iconic Napa winery on Thursday: Massican Wines, Napa Valley’s only white wine-only producer. The news comes on the heels of the parent company’s agreement to purchase Rombauer Vineyards, which was announced Tuesday.”
Food & Culture:
José R. Ralat with the backstory of the most patriotic dish in Mexico. “Like most origin myths, this one is short, sweet, and probably not entirely true. In 1821, soon after signing the Treaty of Córdoba, which ended Spanish colonial rule, Iturbide visited the Convent of Santa Mónica in Puebla, home to nuns of the Order of Augustinian Recollects. To honor the war hero, whose appearance coincided with the August 28 feast day of Saint Augustine, the sisters feted Iturbide with a banquet—most of whose dishes he refused to eat, since he feared being poisoned by his political enemies. There was one dish, however, that he couldn’t resist. According to a creation story offered by Ricardo Muñoz Zurita in his definitive tome on Mexican cuisine, Diccionario Enciclopedico de la Gastronomia Mexicana, among the preparations was an edible tribute to the new flag’s colors. Entranced by the velvety mixture of sweet and savory notes, Iturbide couldn’t help himself. He cleaned his plate, and thus, the story goes, the patriotic dish was born.”
In Vittles, a first-hand account of taking taking cross-sex hormones. “I think, of course I’m hungry and horny – I’m becoming a teenage boy.“
Also in Vittles, an overview of the enormous number of ice cream options in London. It comes after some complaining about London being inundated in a lot of mediocre gelato. “Still, there is a fragmented – and often incongruous – scene. On the shoulder of the North Circular is an Iranian juice bar that sells a saffron bastani so embellished with cream and pistachio that the scoop verges on being a sundae. In the middle of Park Royal – the largest industrial park in the city, and soon to become the largest regeneration scheme – is a cafe where you can get a long fang of baklava sandwiched with Syrian booza. We have lemon-and-basil soft serve, vertiginous peaks of sheeryakh, helados with the vibrational potency of Skittles.”
Odds & Ends:
“In 1887 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Division of Pomology began hiring artists to render illustrations of fruit varieties for lithographic reproduction in USDA articles, reports, and bulletins. Use of color lithography was critically important to enable the farmer to visualize and comprehend the subjects and principles covered in a particular publication. As a historic botanical resource, this collection documents new fruit and nut varieties, and specimens introduced by USDA plant explorers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection spans the years 1886 to 1942. The majority of the paintings were created between 1894 and 1916. The plant specimens represented by these artworks originated in 29 countries and 51 states and territories in the U.S. There are 7,497 watercolor paintings, 87 line drawings, and 79 wax models created by approximately 21 artists.” They are online! Via the American Association of Wine Economist account.
That’s it. Short and sweet this week.
Be Kind. Be Patient. Tip Big. Don’t whine.