Veterans Day Specials in DC

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On Monday, some delicious eating awaits Veterans and their families. We’ve highlighted some here, and for those in further out suburban DMV, always check out this annual list here from USA TODAY.

Le Diplomate

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Complimentary Burger Américain

Bustling 14th Street brasserie, Le Diplomate is thanking our heroic military men and women with a complimentary Burger Américain, the restaurant’s all-American burger. Additionally,  Le Diplomate is donating proceeds from all Burger Américain sales on Veteran’s Day to the Wounded Warrior Project. Le Dip’s Burger Américain has two patties, crunchy pickle chips and onions and special sauce on a housemade sesame seed brioche bun. While traditionally topped with both an American flag toothpick and a French flag toothpick, on Veteran’s Day, the burger will go all-American, topped with two American flags

BLT Steak

50% off dinner

BLT Steak will honor those who serve the our country and the D.C. community. In celebration of Veterans Day on Monday, November 11, BLT will offer all veterans and their families (up to 8 guests) 50% off their dinner with proof of proper identification.

The Palm

50% off entrees

The Washington DC location of the fine-dining steakhouse is offering a 50-percent discount on entrees to all active duty military and veterans.

The Occidental

50% off of total bill

The historic Occidental carries the portraits of American icons, many of whom were military legends. On Veteran’s Day, Monday, November 11th, anyone with a valid military ID will receive a 50% discount on their order to recognize the tremendous sacrifice vets have made.

District Doughnuts

Free hot coffee for all military on Veterans Day!

District Doughnut’s serves Compass Coffee, and there is a major reason why. Compass Coffee's founders, Michael and Harrison, are veterans themselves. On Veterans Day (November 11th), all military and veterans will receive a free regular sized hot coffee from any of our locations. Not only that, but a special version of their Funfetti doughnut will be available and the proceeds from purchasing will go to the Semper Fi Fund.

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All Purpose Pizza - Capitol Riverfront

Brunch to support MTEC

Bottomless brunch option for $21 on Monday, which means unlimited Aperol Spritzs, Mimosas, Bellinis and Bloody Marys with the purchase of a brunch specialty item or pizza. Brunch pizza suggestions are the Lady Brynn with parm fonduta, prosciutto cotto, gruyere, farm egg and chives or The Beltway, with parmesan, mozz, heirloom tomato, roasted bacon, farm egg and arugula.

For Veteran's Day, $1 from every pizza sold at All-Purpose will support MTEC, an organization that works on the development of medical solutions that prevent and treat injuries to restore America’s active military and veterans to full health.

Celebrate a Magical Christmas in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County

The Grand Illumination with annual tree lighting in downtown Annapolis.

The Grand Illumination with annual tree lighting in downtown Annapolis.

Magical! That’s the word that best describes Annapolis during the holiday season. Green garlands, red ribbons, and white lights adorn the fronts of shop after shop, business after business in the Downtown Historic District making the city look and feel more than ever like a quaint 18th-century European town that’s counting down to Christmas. A spirit of joy and anticipation fills the air from the moment the city’s Christmas tree lights up on December 1. The Grand Illumination kicks off a month of activities that culminates with a New Year’s Eve celebration that features afternoon activities for the kids and wraps up with live music and midnight fireworks at City Dock.

From beginning to end, December in Annapolis is synonymous with treasured memories of family fun and romantic getaways. Back for its fifth year, the December 8 Chocolate Binge Festival includes more than 40 local chocolate vendors serving up great stocking stuffers – if the chocolate hangs around that long!

Midnight Madness populates the streets of Annapolis with music, dancing, and feasting.

Midnight Madness populates the streets of Annapolis with music, dancing, and feasting.

Midnight Madness is another treasured holiday tradition. Amidst music and dancing in the streets, shoppers make their way from store to store in a moveable feast that lasts until midnight the first three Thursdays in December. Mission accomplished, many satisfied gift givers treat themselves to an overnight stay in downtown Annapolis. Elsewhere on the shopping scene, a December 7 Fire and Ice Festival at the nearby Annapolis Towne Centre promises fun for all.  

West Annapolis will host its second annual Winterfest and European Christmas Market December 7-8 and 14-15. Fifty fine arts vendors will sell their gift-worthy crafts from custom-made, European-style stalls positioned around a central gathering space filled with firepits, food and drink trucks, and plenty of glühwein to go around!

The Military Bowl parade brings the beloved Budweiser Clydesdales to town.

The Military Bowl parade brings the beloved Budweiser Clydesdales to town.

West Annapolis will be front and center again on December 26 during an 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Miracle on Annapolis Street celebration featuring the famous Budweiser Clydesdale horses. The horses will travel through West Annapolis for visitors to see up close and personal from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. The celebration serves as a pre-game pep rally for the Military Bowl that will take place at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium the following day. As a prelude to the 12th anniversary game, the Clydesdales will appear in a December 27 Military Bowl Parade through downtown Annapolis. The noon game matches a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference against an opponent from the American Athletic Conference.  

City Dock’s the place to be on December 14 when up to 40 brightly lit sail and powerboats bedecked with thousands of holiday lights parade around the Annapolis waterfront and Spa Creek in the 37th Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade. When the parade is through, stroll through the downtown Historic District taking in the timeless decorations that adorn centuries-old homes and businesses. If you prefer, let Watermark’s experts take you on a Holiday Candlelight Stroll of the nooks and crannies of Annapolis on select Friday and Saturday evenings in December. Or, hop aboard Watermark’s Jolly Express for a cruise aboard the antler-bedecked Miss Anne Friday-Sundays throughout December.

The Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade dazzles waterfront revelers.

The Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade dazzles waterfront revelers.

The holidays are a perfect time to see two of Annapolis’ five-part Georgian mansions in all their holiday grandeur – during historic Hammond-Harwood House’s Holiday Open House and Greens Sale on December 6 and Historic Annapolis’ open house at the 18th-century home of Declaration of Independence signer William Paca on December 7.

Annapolis by Candlelight allows visitors to enjoy some of downtown’s finest dwellings.

Annapolis by Candlelight allows visitors to enjoy some of downtown’s finest dwellings.

There’s plenty going on in November to give you a head start on the holidays. Thankstival at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds on November 2 will feature live music, food, fun and a host of artisan gifts to choose from. With its 130 vendors, the November 3 First Sunday Arts Festival on West Street in Annapolis could easily serve as a one-stop shop for forward thinking Santas. Now in its 28th year, Historic Annapolis’ November 8-9 Annapolis by Candlelight provides an inside peak at some of the finest homes in downtown Annapolis, and Small Business Saturday on November 23 is the perfect time to patronize mom and pop businesses so vital to Annapolis and Anne Arundel County’s economy.

A brilliant drive-through display of holiday lights can be found at Sandy Point State Park starting in late November.

A brilliant drive-through display of holiday lights can be found at Sandy Point State Park starting in late November.

Lovers of holiday lights can get their fix at Lights on the Bay at Sandy Point State Park from November 23 through January 1. The drive-through holiday lights show beside the Chesapeake Bay features more than 70 animated and stationary displays.

The yearlong wait is over! It’s time to dive into Annapolis and Anne Arundel County’s holiday magic! To find out more, visit https://www.visitannapolis.org/.

A Michelin Star Chef Weekend in Middleburg, Virginia

Chef Giancarlo Morelli at work.

Chef Giancarlo Morelli at work.

In the town of Middleburg, the heart of Virginia’s wine country, the anticipation is palpable. In less than two weeks, Michelin Star Chef Giancarlo Morelli, one of Italy’s most recognizable chefs, will lead a weekend of culinary events at Salamander Resort & Spa that brilliantly pair the traditions of his home country with the delicious abundance of Virginia’s local growers.

For the attendees of this Michelin Star Chef Weekend (Nov. 15-17), Chef Morelli will bring his larger-than-life personality and unique style to craft an unforgettable one-of-a-kind experience. The weekend will feature:


A Chef, Prosecco & Two Sopranos

Nov. 15 | 7:00 pm | $188/person

This intimate reception featuring decadent hors d'oeuvres and sparkling wine, invites guests to get to know the chef behind the knife. An exclusive concert finishes the evening, with Camille Zamora and Monica Yunus, two of the most elite Sopranos who have performed all over the world.

Michelin Star Cooking Class with Chef Giancarlo Morelli
Nov. 16 | 2:00 pm | $120/person

Participants learn the ins and outs of Italian cuisine while being elbow-to-elbow with one of Italy’s best chefs, joined by the resort's Executive Chef Ryan Arensdorf.


Eight-Course Michelin Star Dinner with Chef Morelli
Nov. 16 | 6:30 pm | $310/person

This one of a kind Michelin Star dining experience happens at Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill featuring Chef Giancarlo Morelli preparing an exclusive eight-course dinner using some of his favorite ingredients from Italy as well as local favorites from Virginia.

 
Three-Course Michelin Star Brunch with Chef Morelli
Nov. 17 | 11:00 am | $120/person

To cap off the delicious weekend, Michelin Star Chef Giancarlo Morelli, Executive Chef Ryan Arensdorf and Executive Pastry Chef Jason Reaves host an intimate and indulgent brunch experience where each chef will present their own special course.

For more information or to book the events, please call Salamander Resort & Spa at (540) 326-4070.


About Salamander Resort & Spa

Salamander Resort & Spa is a Forbes Five-Star resort situated in the historic village of Middleburg, VA, on 340 picturesque acres. Located only one hour from Washington, D.C., and just 35 minutes from Washington Dulles International Airport, the resort is designed to respect the architectural traditions of Virginia’s countryside with 168 spacious rooms and suites that blend into their natural environment. Resort Owner Sheila C. Johnson has created a luxurious destination featuring an award-winning 23,000-square-foot spa, Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill, the Gold Cup Wine Bar, a dedicated Cooking Studio, a chef-inspired Culinary Garden as well as the adventurous Tree Top Zip Tour. The resort includes a full-service Equestrian Center with unique programming, a 22-stall stable and riding arena. All spa, culinary and equestrian programs are open to the community. For additional information, please visit www.SalamanderResort.com.

About Salamander Hotels & Resorts

Salamander Hotels & Resorts is a privately owned and operated company based in Middleburg, VA, just outside Washington, D.C. Founded by entrepreneur Sheila Johnson in 2005, the company has a luxury portfolio featuring the stunning Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, a 340-acre equestrian-inspired property near Washington, D.C.; The Henderson, a 170-room grand beach resort in Destin, FL; Hotel Bennett, a new 179-room luxury hotel in Charleston, SC, overlooking the city’s historic Marion Square; Innisbrook Resort in Tampa Bay, which hosts an annual PGA TOUR on its Copperhead Course; and the recently renovated oceanfront Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, FL, home to layouts by Nicklaus and Watson. All Salamander properties are members of Preferred Hotels & Resorts. For additional information, visit www.SalamanderHotels.com or call 540-687-3710

A Taste of (and for) Africa

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Interest in cuisines of the diaspora is growing in DC

By Jessica Wolfrom, photography by Jennifer Chase | From the Edible DC Fall 2019 Issue

Although Africans have deep roots in the District, historically African food has been underrepresented in its dining scene.

But this is starting to change. In the past few years, there’s been an increasing interest in foods of the African diaspora, due in part to a new generation of young chefs and entrepreneurs who are reimagining traditional cuisines and using media social platforms to reach a larger audience.

From chef Kwame Onwauchi’s landmark restaurant Kith and Kin, to chef Eric Adjepong’s catering company Pinch and Plate, to Christophe Kambou’s pop-up dinner at Compass Rose, cuisines of the African diaspora are being reclaimed by young chefs and infused with new energy.

Nina Oduro, Nana Ama Afari-Dwamena and Maame Boakye, founders of Dine Diaspora.

Nina Oduro, Nana Ama Afari-Dwamena and Maame Boakye, founders of Dine Diaspora.

We’re no longer waiting for The Washington Post or The New York Times to tell us that this is our moment. We have social media at our fingertips. We are creating it ourselves.

Dine Diaspora is the product of three entrepreneurs—Oduro, Maame Boakye and Nana Ama Afari-Dwamena—who are using social media platforms like Instagram to generate a groundswell of interest in African food.

But when Boakye, Afari-Dwamena and Oduro started Dine Diaspora in 2014, chefs of the African diaspora were hard to find. “We had to go to great lengths to find chefs for our events,” said Oduro. “It was not easy. There wasn’t a particular place we could go to; there wasn’t a particular platform.”

After much research, the women found the New York–based chef Eric Adjepong.

These were the early days. Long before Adjepong was touched by “Top Chef” celebrity or named one of the sexiest chefs alive by People Magazine.

 “When they started it felt like a super grassroots effort,” said Adjepong, who cooked for Dine Diaspora’s inaugural dinner. “It was a no-brainer for me to hook up with them.”

It’s not that African food didn’t exist here. To say that African cuisine is new to the District is to ignore a long and complicated history.

“Due to its coastal connections and its place as part of the American South, DC has been shaped by the legacy of slavery,” said Dr. Marcia Chatelain, a professor of history and African American studies at Georgetown University.

 Enslaved Africans cooked in the White House. They fed politicians and diplomats. They quite literally built our nation’s capital from the ground up.

Few chefs of African descent work at the pinnacle of our national haute cuisine today, yet their contributions to American kitchens and dining rooms have been definitive. Without their expertise, the nation’s gastronomic heritage would be much the poorer.

 “Few chefs of African descent work at the pinnacle of our national haute cuisine today,” said Rafia Zafar in her book Recipes for Respect, “yet their contributions to American kitchens and dining rooms have been definitive. Without their expertise, the nation’s gastronomic heritage would be much the poorer.”

Over time, traditionally African foods like sweet potatoes, okra and peanuts—foods we might mistakenly consider American in origin—became quietly embedded in the upper echelons of Washington diets. Yet these early chefs and their cuisines have long gone unnoticed.

But now, black chefs and entrepreneurs are taking back these narratives, using food to tell complicated stories about the transatlantic slave trade or the experience of being a part of the diaspora, through something as simple as a meal.

“At the core of this are the entrepreneurs and creatives,” said Oduro. “Pushing things forward and saying ‘We cannot be ignored. Our food matters and we matter.’”

Part of this may also be due to an increasing number of Africans in the District. According to DC’s Office on African Affairs, native-born Africans are the fastest-growing immigrant group in DC.

DC boasts the highest proportion of African-born residents of any major city in the United States, and this number has been increasing steadily. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than two-thirds of African immigrants in the Washington metro area have arrived since 1990.

But the shift from small mom-and-pop restaurants like Appioo or Bokum, which serve traditional dishes like nkruma nkwan (okra soup) or kumasi nkatikwan (chicken with ground peanuts), to upscale restaurants like Kith and Kin or Adjepong’s forthcoming project, signals something new in the DC dining scene.

“I think DC has always had a robust African diaspora population who were cooking in their homes and opening small restaurants,” said Oduro. “But now, you have a Kith and Kin. That is major. It’s lux, it’s elevated. It’s in the Intercontinental Hotel. The magnitude of that is very big for the African diaspora population.”

DC is slowly becoming a place of reckoning and recognition for these long-ignored histories and foodways. Chefs are moving here, cooking here, opening restaurants here.

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“This generation is taking something and we are transforming it. We have our finger on the pulse of what people want. This generation is finally the generation that’s doing whatever we want to do.” — Kwame Onwauchi

Kwame Onwauchi was drawn to the District not only because of its deep connections to the diaspora, but also because cooking here felt like coming home. Although Onwauchi grew up in New York and Nigeria, he would often come to DC to see his grandfather, who was a professor of African American history and anthropology at Howard University.

“I have this connection to the city as a little kid, just running around South East,” said Onwauchi. “But it was also a natural fit for me because of the history here. DC has always been Harlem South. This is Chocolate City. There is no reason why Kith and Kin wouldn’t exist here. It should exist here.”

At 29, Onwauchi has already had a seismic effect across the food and media landscape. He’s been on “Top Chef.” He’s published a memoir, Notes From a Young Black Chef. He helms the kitchen at Kith and Kin, where he showcases his Nigerian, Jamaican, Trinidadian and Creole roots. And of course, he shares all of this on social media.

Onwauchi has forced people to pay attention—both to African food and the young chefs and entrepreneurs who are reinventing the ways we access it.

“What Kwame’s work at Kith and Kin is doing is allowing other chefs to say ‘There’s room for my food and my culture,’” said Oduro.

Chef Christophe Kambou, Maydan’s sous chef.

Chef Christophe Kambou, Maydan’s sous chef.

Christophe Kambou, a sous chef at Maydan, is one such chef carving out space for himself in this new culinary scene. “It started with Kwame,” said Kambou. “He’s been a pretty big catalyst in my wanting to do this.”

Kambou hosted his first pop-up event focused on West African food at Compass Rose this August. His menu drew from childhood nostalgia—Kambou was born in Boston, but has lived in Zambia, Togo, Ethiopia, Mali and the Ivory Coast, where he lived when a military coup forced his family to move back to the States in 2001—and included items like suya, or beef skewers, and jollof rice.

But the star of the meal was Kambou’s twist on kelewele, or fried plantains, with peanuts, chili and spices.

Plantains, purchased from a small woman at a roadside stall, are the first thing that Kambou remembers eating on a field trip to Ghana. “We got off the bus and I remember eating these plantains and buying a Puff Daddy CD,” he said, laughing. “Puff Daddy and plantains.”

What empowers many of these young chefs and entrepreneurs to be outspoken advocates for food of the diaspora is that they straddle the cultural divide between Africa and America.

“I can move between the two worlds,” said Adjepong. “I was born here, I’m American. But my household was all Ghanaian. I have the dichotomy of coming from a traditional Ghanaian home but, stepping outside, I was a normal New York City kid.”

But moving between worlds inevitably forces young chefs into a fraught territory where they must choose between honoring their family heritage or expressing new ideas on the plate.

“There’s a lot of pressure,” said Kambou. “I have the utmost respect for my ancestors, and paying respect to your lineage and where you come from is really important. But I also need to find my truth. It’s really hard. Especially because there is no one really doing it. There’s no model.”

A selection of West African dishes from Christophe Kambou, Suya Beef Skewers, Salad de Crevettes and Fried Plantains.

A selection of West African dishes from Christophe Kambou, Suya Beef Skewers, Salad de Crevettes and Fried Plantains.

Because this food is still largely unfamiliar to Americans, these chefs have both an incredible freedom to experiment and the burden of getting it right.

“It is weird. It feels a little like being a pioneer,” said Adjepong. “But I feel prepared to be doing exactly what I am doing. Ultimately, it goes to being authentic. I am who I am: I’m from Ghana. I grew up eating this food. I’m a chef. There is nothing here I can fake.”

When you boil it down, this new energy around African cuisine is really meant to accomplish one thing: sharing this food and the histories attached to it.

“We welcome all to the table,” said Oduro. “But we want people to recognize that there is a history. There is a culture. There are identities tied up in this food that you need to respect and honor as you begin to embrace this food.”

Because this new generation lives a large part of their lives online, we might see cuisines of the African diaspora on a screen far before we ever encounter it on the plate. But finally, we are starting to see it.


For the recipe for a classic Senagalese dish, Yassa Poulet, go  here .

For the recipe for a classic Senagalese dish, Yassa Poulet, go here.

Big Servings of Inspiration at the No Waste Big Taste Cook-off

Hunger awareness event used “food waste” to create delicious meals

By Linda Wang, Edible DC Contributor

Manna Food Center’s  cooking competition featured “ugly produce” and product from a food pantry to highlight hunger awareness.

Manna Food Center’s cooking competition featured “ugly produce” and product from a food pantry to highlight hunger awareness.

Two mystery baskets. Thirty minutes each.

That’s how much time we had to create an appetizer and entree using rescued food, or food that’s otherwise destined for the trash, from Manna Food Center, an anti-hunger nonprofit in Montgomery County, Maryland.

On Saturday, Oct. 26, I got to be a sous chef in the second annual No Waste Big Taste cooking competition, which is organized by Manna Food Center and co-hosted by Downtown Silver Spring and FRESHFARM Market. The Top Chef-like competition took place at FRESHFARM’s Silver Spring Farmers Market and aimed to raise awareness about hunger, food insecurity, and food waste. The competition was the final event of Montgomery County’s second annual Community Food Rescue Week.

Contestants Chef Bryan Lacayo, Kyley McGeeney, Linda Wang and Jim Drost faced off at the No Waste Big Taste competition.

Contestants Chef Bryan Lacayo, Kyley McGeeney, Linda Wang and Jim Drost faced off at the No Waste Big Taste competition.

I teamed up with culinary director Jim Drost of Matchbox restaurant, and we faced off against executive chef Bryan Lacayo of PLNT Burger and sous chef Kyley McGeeney, founder of the food blog Mission Michelin.

Our goal: Use up the ingredients in our mystery baskets and leave as little waste as possible. We also had access to a variety of items brought in from Manna’s food pantry, including canned goods, oils, and spices, as well as “ugly” produce donated by The Farm at Our House, Quaker Valley Orchards, and Spiral Path. As a bonus, each chef got to bring a “secret weapon”—a food item from their own pantry (I brought dumpling wrappers). 

For the appetizer course, our mystery basket contained purple potatoes, a can of great Northern beans, and a jar of tomato salsa. Quick thinking led Chef Drost and I to decide on a Southwestern purple potato hash. We threw the salsa into a blender with some sour cream to make a delicious sauce, and we fried up the purple potato peels to make a crispy garnish. We even used the aquafaba from the can of beans to add thickness to our dish. No waste, big taste, I think we succeeded.             

For the entrée course, our mystery basket contained kale, lemongrass, raw chicken breast, olives, and brown rice. What in the world to cook with this? Cue my dumpling wrappers. Chef Drost and I looked at each other and said, “Potstickers!” Lemongrass chicken potstickers stuffed with olives and brown rice, to be exact—in a lemongrass broth topped with baby bok choy and spicy honey kale.                

Our entree course using my dumpling wrappers: Lemongrass chicken potstickers stuffed with olives and brown rice.

Our entree course using my dumpling wrappers: Lemongrass chicken potstickers stuffed with olives and brown rice.

When the clock ran out, we looked at our dish in disbelief. It was creative, beautiful, and it tasted absolutely amazing! Okay, so we’re biased.

Next to us, the PLNT Burger team was marveling at their “Timeless Chicken” entrée, featuring a Vietnamese kale and lemongrass-peanut sauce. For their appetizer dish, they had made a vegan bean salad with crispy Beyond Meat sausage.

In the end, the judges—who evaluated our dishes on taste, presentation, and amount of food waste generated—narrowly chose the PLNT Burger team. In the end it didn’t matter, we were all winners in this event. We won one for the community, raising awareness about hunger, food insecurity, and food waste. And we had a lot of fun.  

That’s food for the soul.


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Linda Wang is a DC-based photographer and writer. lindawangphotography.com

Celebrate National Italian Heritage Month with Don Ciccio & Figli

A New Amaro Tasting Bar Alluring as its Name Debuts a New Fall Menu

For a taste of Italian tradition, visit Francesco Amodeo and his Bar Sirenis, the home of Don Ciccio & Figli this weekend. Open from 1 - 8 p, the tasting room and distillery is located in Ivy City at 1907 Fairview Ave NE.

For a taste of Italian tradition, visit Francesco Amodeo and his Bar Sirenis, the home of Don Ciccio & Figli this weekend. Open from 1 - 8 p, the tasting room and distillery is located in Ivy City at 1907 Fairview Ave NE.

By Jessica Wolfrom, photography by Jennifer Chase | From the Edible DC Fall 2019 Issue

You could say that amaro runs through Francesco Amodeo’s blood.

His family has been making it in Italy for 135 years. But in 2012, Amodeo transported this tradition from the Amalfi Coast to our nation’s capital.

His company, Don Ciccio & Figli, recently expanded into an Ivy City warehouse, which more than doubled the space from his previous location in Northwest’s Manor Park neighborhood.

But you can’t just walk into Don Ciccio & Figli’s new tasting room on Distillery Row. You have to find it.

An electric blue facade points the way to a dim hallway. Save for the colorful tiles and soothing music, the extreme contrast might make you question if you made it to the right place.

This is exactly the reaction Amodeo intended. “When you’re here, I want you to forget where you came from,” said Amodeo. “It’s a journey. In Italy, we call it passo a passo: step by step.”

Step by step is how one digests the entire experience at Don Ciccio & Figli.

When you have made it into the tasting room, cordials, amaros and aperitifs beckon from a long bar. The tasting itself comprises 15 Italian liqueurs and runs the gamut from an easy-drinking herbal liqueur called Ambrosia to a dark and brooding fernet.

“We build a bitterness barometer,” said Amodeo. “We go from the sweetest to the most bitter.”

It has been said that bitterness is as essential to Italians as pasta. But Americans are beginning to enjoy the bite. “In 2015, people were asking me, ‘What’s an amaro?’” said Amodeo. “Now they are asking me, ‘When are you coming out with your next one?’”

But bitterness doesn’t mean forgoing balance. Amodeo is hyper-focused on fusing the Italian love of bitterness with the American obsession with all things sweet.

Amodeo’s goal is to reach as many people as possible, through flavor alone. “Why am I chopping 10,000 walnuts or peeling 2,000 lemons if you can’t taste them?” he asked.

One of only a few amaro tasting bars in the U.S., once you’ve tasted through the portfolio here, Bar Sirenis will lure you in for more. The bar is named after the mythological Sirens that used music to enchant passing sailors to shipwreck on the rocks off the Amalfi Coast. Amodeo’s bar is a temptation not to be passed up.

Here, though, surrendering to impulse pays off. Amodeo will safely guide you through how to use his products in classic cocktails like the Negroni and the Spritz, and in specialty sips that blend Amadeo’s cordials and bitter liqueurs.

“This place makes you think,” said Amodeo. “This place makes you become creative. It forces you to become more involved in what we do. It hugs you. It embraces you. It makes you wonder what is coming next.”


Amodeo on his tasting bar, his locally produced product behind him.

Amodeo on his tasting bar, his locally produced product behind him.

Don Ciccio & Figli | Bar Sirenis, 1907 Fairview Ave. NE, Washington, DC.

Open Saturday and Sunday, 1– 8 pm. 202.957.7792; donciccioefigli.com