The "Takes 2": A Tequila Cocktail from Herradura + The Occidental

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Edible DC gathered a group of our contributors and colleagues for a downtown dinner at Occidental Grill & Seafood downtown where we also tasted through Herradura tequila's portfolio of agave-based spirits. Earlier in the week, we worked with Executive Chef Jake Addeo to develop a multi-course meal for our guests.

Starter
Hokkaido Scallop Ceviche with leche de tigre, pink peppercorns, and micro shiso.

Entree
 Elysian Fields 24 Hour Lamb Shoulder with fig confit,black corn polenta, and smoked cabbage. 

Dessert
Depression Era Vinegar Pie with agave brittle and olive oil gelato. 

In a wood-paneled space upstairs, just passed dozens of photos of United States politicians and a cherry wood bar reminiscent of Cheers, we learned about the storied history of Herradura tequila, produced since 1870 at the last true tequila-producing hacienda left in Mexico. After a lesson on Herradura tequila and how it is aged and made, the group did a flight tasting and sampled cocktails from mixologist Frankie Jones. He was kind enough to share the recipe for our favorite, Takes Two. 

Takes Two Cocktail
By Frankie Jones

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounce Herradura Reposado
  • .75 ounce Lime Juice
  • .25 ounce Velvet Falernum
  • .5 ounce of Apple Pie Moonshine
  • Dash of Whiskey Barrel Bitters 

Shake on ice, strain into martini class, straight up and garnish with a lime peel. Enjoy!

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Maria’s Menu for Health

Washington’s Exuberant Hostess Sets the Standard for Eating and Living Well

By Susan Able, Photography by Jennifer Chase

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Maria Trabocchi gives me a tour of Del Mar, the newest restaurant from Washington’s restaurateur power couple, which has already become a destination at The Wharf. Husband Chef Fabio Trabocchi has been quoted as saying Del Mar was “for Maria,” since it channels everything about her native country of Spain and her coastal home in Mallorca, from the colors to the tiles, the seafood, the ambience. It’s a jewel box of a restaurant, and the food has already won rave reviews from critics.

But there is no rest for Maria Trabocchi. She’s working on other projects and talking excitedly about other new ideas. As she takes me to the second floor of Del Mar, she tells me, “These stairs—they will make you or they will kill you. Our team is going to have the best legs after a year at this place.”

Which leads us to topic A of our today’s chat: wellness. We settle upstairs in a green velvet private dining room. I’ve come to hear about Maria’s fitness journey, and yes, she’s had one. Despite her svelte figure and obvious energy, the tall hostess with the mostess has reinvented her self-care regimen and diet over the past few years.

SUSAN ABLE: Tell me about “The Maria Menu.”

MARIA TRABOCCHI: After we opened Fiola in 2011, I was doing all the PR and marketing for the restaurants and I loved showing off our food to guests. I would sit down and say hello and eat small bites, but all the food, like lobster ravioli. And then Fabio and I would come home late, at midnight. We got in the habit of eating cheese, prosciutto, toast and a glass of wine. I didn’t realize how much weight I was starting to gain. Fashion has always been my first love and I said to Fabio, “You are going to have to buy me a new wardrobe, or I will have to go work someplace else. Please make a light menu for me: low sodium, low fat, low sugar.”

And he did. I said we should put it on the menu, because people will order it, so we called it Maria Menu in Fiola, and now all the restaurants have their own Maria Menu. Not only women order it, men too. It’s not boring! It’s a beautiful piece of fish grilled, a salad and some granita or sorbet. We change the menus every day, so each chef in the restaurant designs their own Maria Menu for lunch. I just tell them I want it to be simple, delicious and light. 

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SA: In addition to creating a healthier way to eat in the restaurants, what did you change in the rest of your life?

MT: Well, I had to be disciplined and start to get serious about exercise. First, about the food, I cut completely back on eating carbs six days a week, no desserts. Sunday is my “cheat day” and I’ll eat bread, toast, rice, pasta. But I don’t go crazy. Otherwise, you just dig a hole for yourself on Monday.

Exercise has been huge part of our life. Two years ago, I hired a personal trainer for myself and Fabio at Balance gym, near our house. We wanted to do this together. As restaurant people, we go to the gym every morning since we work at night. I have to say, it has really changed both of us: My husband has lost weight and gotten fit too. When I started to exercise with a trainer, I had to literally roll out of bed because I was so sore. My daughter saw me and thought she would have to call an ambulance. (She laughs.) Every muscle hurt but the results are so worth it. abio and I have to be strong, we have physical jobs, and as the front of the house I am very visible to the public—so I want to look good!

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SA: In addition to helping to start and run five restaurants, you’re also the mother of two teenagers. How did you bring your family along with you on an overall wellness plan?

MT: It’s a family affair. It’s so much easier to do it all together. I’ve changed it up with the kids completely at home. When they were smaller, it was easy to give them easy snacks like crackers or peanut butter. But then I started to think that this was not OK. We have become very healthy at home. No cookies, chocolate or soda. A big bowl of fruit is now on the counter every day and I’m always replenishing it. I love cherries and peaches when they are in season.

Our family time is on Sundays. Mario loves to make our family meal at home, we set the table and get ready to eat. He loves to grill and I like baking, so last Sunday, since it is my “cheat day,” I made sugar cookies. We all enjoy them, but it is not an everyday treat.

SA: What’s your biggest advice to someone who wants to reinvent their own self-care program?

MT: It just doesn’t just happen, you have to make a plan and stick to it. You have to want to be fit, you have to work for it. You have to suffer a little bit, it is not going to be easy. But you will be happier! Make a plan for exercise and make a plan to get your nutrition in place. You really have to commit to a disciplined five days [a week] at least to make a change work.

For me, I keep my schedule: I get up, have a latte. I drop my children at school, I go directly to the gym, I park and walk to the gym, and I work out from 8:30 to 9:30am. Eggs, smoked salmon, hot water and lemon. No carbs. No cookies. I have to be very strong at saying no.

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SA: What is the number one thing Americans could do to make their diet more like that of Spain and the Mediterranean? 

MT: Stop eating fried food. I swear I can smell the grease when I land at JFK. Also, I think that people in the U.S. need to remember that sodas and flavored beverages have calories, so read the labels. Do you really want to drink this instead of water? I find that Americans love a sauce and dressing. Skip that. You might as well eat a Whopper when you eat a Caesar salad; it’s got rich dressing and those croutons.

But, I will say the quality of food has gotten so much better since I was young here. Eat fish as much as you can and some sort of vegetable. There are so many great choices available.

I know this may sound repetitive, but at home in Spain we eat more fruits and vegetables. We eat less refined sugar. Most Spaniards eat a more healthy diet than here; my parents are super healthy eaters. My mom can wear my clothes and vice versa. We eat a lot of fresh food without the processed things. Salad, tomatoes, gazpacho and always fruit. We finish every meal with a piece of fruit in season, like an orange in winter or watermelon or peach in the summer.  

Ready for a Juice Boost?

Local Juicers Offer a Spectrum of Options

By AJ Dronkers

 Photos by Kate Headley 

Photos by Kate Headley 

Beyond a fad, fresh juicing continues strongly on trend here in DC, driven by growing interest in healthy eating and mindful lifestyles. For a region of workers on the go, the ability to pack tons of nutrition into a single refreshing drink has timesaving upsides too. While juicing may be one of your favorite things to do in the kitchen, several local companies offer juicing and tonic options to supplement your diet or for a total cleanse.

The value proposition for a juicing regimen is the idea that the liquid extracted from fruits and vegetables contains necessary vitamins and minerals that we might not get from our daily intake of food.

We sat down with the founders of JRINK and Goûter to get some insight.

So, why should we buy commercially made juice instead of juicing at home?

Shizu Okusa, founder of JRINK: Juices at any grocery store have been processed or pasteurized. Pasteurization helps extend the shelf life and minimize spoilage but can also kill all the good bacteria. Juicing at home can be great if you have time, but it can be difficult to make it taste good at home. The most important benefit is that our cold-press method extracts more nutrients per ounce than a home juice system can.

V Orban, founder of Goûter: We use alkaline water, which is not easy to find. The ingredients that we use are more supplements and superfoods that you don’t get elsewhere and difficult to make taste good. Also, when you purchase things at a grocery store they are pasteurized and lose some raw value. And of course, by supporting a local company, you empower our community.

What about people who complain about high calorie intake?

Okusa: We don’t believe in counting calories, we believe in counting chemicals. We started this business by saying we don’t want any chemicals or preservatives in our juices. We want 100% all-natural fruits and vegetables and we believe in transparency. People are actually more interested in nutritional content like sugar, protein and fat content. We have zero added sugar and we are 100% fruit based.

Orban: Calories come from the coconut nectar in our product. Our tonics were created for people with an active lifestyle and who need calories from protein, carbohydrates and other nutrients to fuel your body. We wanted to take the emphasis off calorie counting and [focus] more on the quality of those calories for your active life.

Why does this make a great cleanse or reboot option?

Okusa: A reboot is a little different from doing a cleanse from the aspect it’s about kick-starting a refreshed lifestyle. It’s pre-set program where the nutrition is figured out for you. We call it “peace of mind nutrition” so you don’t have to think about it.

Orban: Personally, I tried to do some typical juice cleanses and it just didn’t work for me. I felt full and bloated. The tonics we make are alkaline water mixed with extracted juices from fruits, veggies and superfoods. You feel satiated, but with the alkaline base I think people walk away feeling lighter, energized and nourished.

JRINK

 Photos by Kate Headley

Photos by Kate Headley

All-local and fresh sourcing using a cold-press method that claims to increase nutrient extraction by 40%. Delivery available.

Goûter Tonics

Raw organic tonics using alkaline water mixed with pressed fruit, vegetables and dried superfoods. Basic idea is that our diets are highly acidic and tonics help bring balance. Delivery available.

Greenheart Juice Co.

100% organic, unpasteurized, cold-pressed juice and nut milks. Retail in Great Falls, VA, and sold at Leesburg and Falls Church farmers markets. Pre-order for pickup available.

Misfit Juicery

This noted local juicer uses imperfect produce to make their juice, reducing food waste. Found at retailers throughout the DMV. Full list at misfitjuicery.com. 

Fruitive

Certified organic cold-pressed juices and delicious vegan bites, great avocado toast. Located at City Center DC and available on Uber Eats. More info at fruitive.com.

Jinsei Juice

Offering organic, locally sourced, non-pasteurized and non-GMO juices and tonics, retail kiosk at Tysons Corner Center on the second floor, full delivery available for the DC area.

South Block Juice Co.

Offering cold-pressed juices, smoothies and acai bowls at multiple locations in DC and VA, pre-order and pickup available for juice multi-packs or cleanses.

Senzu

Raw juice using locally sourced produce; cold-pressed juice delivered or at seasonal farm market locations in DC and VA.  

Purée Juice Bar

Organic, non-pasteurized, cold pressed juices. Locations in DC, MD and VA with delivery or pre-order pickup available.  

Top Picks for Easter Weekend Celebrations

  Plenty of ideas for fun this weekend in the DMV with family and friends

Plenty of ideas for fun this weekend in the DMV with family and friends

Happy Spring to all! Whether you want to have a great Easter meal at home, or go out for a weekend celebration, restaurants and food purveyors have you covered. Make sure and get a reservation now or place an order, it will be a busy weekend.

Special Orders & Events

District Doughnut has the perfect thing to wow your family, Easter Egg Doughnut Cakes. They are topped with a vanilla glaze and come in with pink, blue, or green glazes. Available by preorder (pickup and delivery) today through Saturday, March 31st. $22.  They are also featuring their Cherry Blossom doughnut through the end of April. Cream cheese glaze, cherry pie filling, and a pie crust crumble, also available for pre-order online. 

 District Doughnut's Easter Egg Doughnut cake, available for pre-order.

District Doughnut's Easter Egg Doughnut cake, available for pre-order.

Ham lovers, be so happy. Sloppy Mama's BBQ is doing a special glazed Easter ham. This special-order ham for Easter is available for pick up and delivery on Saturday, March 31st. The hams will feature a glaze made with One Eight Distilling Whiskey and smoked by Sloppy Mama’s pit master Joe Neuman. $65, average weight is 8 lbs. To order, email booking@sloppymamas.comby March 30th.

 Whiskey glazed and smoked ham from Sloppy Mama's BBQ. Peeps are not included.

Whiskey glazed and smoked ham from Sloppy Mama's BBQ. Peeps are not included.

With Easter and Passover arriving this weekend, what about sending someone you love in the DMV a bouquet made from locally grown flowers? Little Acre Farms has got you covered. Order here and as soon as possible to ensure delivery for this weekend.

 Little Acre Flowers is DC’s only 100% locally-sourcing florist

Little Acre Flowers is DC’s only 100% locally-sourcing florist

DBGB's egg-stra special Easter Egg Decorating Class may be the perfect thing to do with your children and friends. This Saturday, March 31st from 11am-1pm, DGBG's Executive Pastry Chef Kelsey Burack will lead a class for children and cover dying eggs, decorating Easter-themed cupcakes, sugar cookies and cake pops. Class participants will get to take their treats home to share on Easter Sunday morning. But it gets better:  And while the kids are busy decorating, we have some sweet treats and libations for the parents! Adults can enjoy a continental breakfast buffet, bottomless mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, included in the ticket price. Tickets are $65 for 1 child + 1 parent here. Also Easter Brunch and Dinner will be served off an a la carte menu, featuring steak and eggs and a fluffernutter waffle! Reservations here. 

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Buttercream Bakeshop has several Easter holiday creations available for pre-order. From Easter Bunny cakes, to amazingly intricate Spring Flower Cakes, to macaroons, the bakers at Buttercream have been busy. A special addition to the spring holiday line up, Devils Food Cake Easter eggs are stuffed with Cherry Buttercream and covered in White Chocolate, then finished with tiny icing flowers. Shop online here for all their holiday confections. 

 Devils Food Cake Eggs filled with creme, covered in white chocolate and finished with icing flowers. $18 at Buttercream Bakeshop. 

Devils Food Cake Eggs filled with creme, covered in white chocolate and finished with icing flowers. $18 at Buttercream Bakeshop. 

Brunch Specials

With everything from family-style to luxe, you have your choice of great options and chef's who are pulling out all the stops to create a memorable spring meal. 

Roofer's Union will feature lamb porchetta, stuffed with Chef Jenn Flynn's house-made lamb sausage along with grilled broccolini and roasted potatoes. Yum. But there is more, like waffles with strawberries and vanilla bean and trotter tots made with pork trotters will also be available. Brunch is a la carte and runs from 11am-2:30pm on Easter Sunday; reservations at www.roofersuniondc.com or over the phone at 202-232-7663.

Osteria Morini DC has an Italian, family-style Easter planned at their waterfront restaurant with dishes such as Cacio E Pepe salad with young romaine lettuce, housemade caesar, fried capers, and focaccia croutons, Agnello of slow-roasted lamb shoulder served with celery root, fresh fava beans, and bright radish, and Salmerino Alpino with wood-grilled Artic char, spring asparagus, and airy zabaglione. Guests will leave with Pastry Chef Tova Hillman’s homemade shortbread Easter egg cookies. Osteria Morini’s family-style  Easter menu will be served on Sunday, April 1 for $57 per person and $25 for children 12 and under. 

On Easter Sunday, Bresca will have an all-day family style menu starting at 11 am. Chef Ryan Ratino has created a seasonal menu with starting with Radishes & Whipped Butter, Burrata Salad and Beef Tartelette for the table. Guests will have a choice of entrée: Whole Roasted Chicken with brioche stuffing, wild spring vegetables, späetzle and cabbage or a Saddle of Virginia Lamb with foie gras stuffing, a cassuoulet of lamb sausage and fava beans, and wild spring vegetables. It all finishes with a dessert of Strawberries & Cream Pavlova. The five-course brunch is priced at $50 with the selection of the Whole Roasted Chicken, and $59 for the Virginia Lamb. Price for children between 6-12 years of age is $35. All prices are per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Reservations here.

Equinox will feature a Vegan Easter Plant-based Buffet. Just a few items that will be featured using fresh, regionally-sourced spring ingredients are: French Onion Soup with Oak Barrel Stout & Sourdough Croutons, Arugula and Citrus Salad with Candied Pecans, Crispy Cauliflower Tempura, Sesame Glazed Japanese Eggplant with Soba Noodles, Stuffed Whole Grain French Toast with Northern Neck Blackberry Jam, Fruit Salad with Pomegranate, Pineapple, Cantaloupe, Honeydew, and a Tofu Scramble Station. A bread station and a selection of desserts included. $35 per person, $15 for children under 12. Reservations here. 

Ambar's DC location and Ambar Clarendon, DC's first Balkan restaurants, will offer a fixed price brunch of unlimited small plates and cocktails on Easter Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Priced at $39 per person, excluding tax and gratuity, guests can enjoy an all-you-can-eat selection of mezze, soups, salads, sandwiches, egg dishes, pastry & crepes and sweets along with five distinctive brunch cocktails.  Bottomless Brunch must be ordered by the entire table. Reservations here.

All Set Restaurant & Bar in Silver Spring will feature a brunch buffet with two seating times at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 1st. Executive Chef Edward Reavis' team will have pancakes, scrambled eggs, salmon cakes, home fries, pork sausage, chicken apple sausage, smoked salmon and more to include a full raw bar, Old Bay wings and dessert. $45 per person (excluding beverages, tax and gratuity) and $20 for children 12 and under. $20 for bottomless mimosas.

Feeling quaint? Why not stroll Old Town and have lunch at Alexandria's Bastille? A 3-course brunch is $49, excluding beverages, taxes and gratuities. Some of the menu items will be Carrot-Ginger Bisque,  Escargots Gratinés, Golden and Chioggia Beets, Salade d’Asperges, Chicken & Waffle, Eggs Benedict, Moules Marinières, Shrimp and Grits, Roasted Leg of Lamb, Grilled Hanger steak, Valrhona Chocolate Truffle Bread Pudding and Buttermilk Pie with Crème Chantilly.

Feeling luxe? Blue Duck Tavern at the Park Hyatt will feature a 3 course, prix fixe menu from 11:30 to 3:30 pm on Sunday starring American classics to include lobster mac n' cheese, prime rib and more. All of the Fabio Trabocchi restaurants are featuring special menus for Easter. Dressing up? Why not try Del Mar's 4-course prix fixe Easter brunch or Fiola Mare's 4-course prix fixe Easter brunch, both are $95. More casual and looking for an evening outing? Casa Luca has a special Easter edition of their Nonna Palmina Night menu. 4-courses for $42 per person, including Caesar Salad, Gnocchi Primavera, Spring Lamb and Vanilla Gelato with Macerated Harry’s Berries Strawberries.

Beer x Brunch = Fresh Spring Fun!

By AJ Dronkers. Photography by Raisa Aziz.

Even though the spring equinox came with snow flurries across the eastern seaboard - soon the warmer, longer days of April will nudge the landscape to that bright green and and the only reasonable course of action is to be outside, soaking it all in. What better way to celebrate this sweet time of year than to host brunch al fresco? 

We recently gathered friends on a Sunday for a brunch with a beer pairing theme, which was a nice twist on the expected brunch beverage offerings. In partnership with Tröegs Brewing company, we designed our menu by using their "food notes" (which we love!) to create the perfect meal. 

With the release of Tröegs First Cut IPA and Perpetual IPA, we paid special attention to getting the contrasting and complimentary flavors just right for our brunch. First stop, a swing through our local bakery to pick up the perfect bread for avocado toast - a Levain loaf made from freshly milled flour - the bag still warm as we carried it home. There's nothing more rewarding then the sturdy crunch of a great loaf of bread as you slice it. A quick drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, and of course red pepper chill flakes and this crowd pleaser is ready to go. 

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The best part about this menu was how easy it was to build. Lightly salted cashews, dried mango slices, delicious cheese, crackers and some freshly baked scones rounded out the offerings. Oven cooked bacon was the most effort besides styling our tablescape.

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One hack we brought back from last year's Fancy Food Show in NYC that we can't get enough of is buying a soft-ripened goat cheese, sprinkle some turbinado or raw sugar on top, and then use your culinary torch to caramelize the sugar on the top. Minimal effort, major wow points from your guests (especially if you use the torch tableside!)  - never mind that its delicious. 

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Food + Hip Hop = Stay Hungry!

National Cooking Competition Comes to DC High School

 Photo by KaTisha Smittick

Photo by KaTisha Smittick

On Wednesday, March 14, local chefs gathered at Roosevelt Senior High School in DC's Petworth neighborhood for a student cooking competition hosted by Stay Hungry, competition that fuses food and hip hop. It works like this:  Students choose a hip hop lyric, then prepare a dish that was inspired by that lyric. The Stay Hungry competition initiative was designed to give inner city students the opportunity to work great ingredients with step-by-step instruction and coaching from professional chefs. The coaching chefs for the DC event included Chef Adam Greenberg (Coconut Club), Chef Rabia Kamara (Ruby Scoops), Chef Duan Samuels (Private Chef), Chef Meshach Cicero (Prequel) and Simone Jacobson (Toli Moli).

 Photo by KaTisha Smittick

Photo by KaTisha Smittick

We followed up with Chef Adam Greenberg about his experience.

EDC: How did you hear about this event? 

Chef Adam: Simone Jacobson from Toli Moli asked me to be a judge for DC's Stay Hungry event. Stay Hungry is an organization that brings hip-hop and food together. 

EDC:  What did the Stay Hungry mean to you?

Chef Adam:  I always get a lot of pleasure out of using my platform to help kids. I’ve learned so many valuable life lessons through the industry. I truly believe it can help give kids some life skills and it helps teach them to work together with others. 

EDC:  Anything that surprised you?

Chef Adam:  I was really surprised by the level of enthusiasm the kids had for learning about food. The live performances from some kids were great, you could see their passion. All we need to do is give these kids positive feedback and an environment that allows them to  thrive. You see that glimmer in their eye when they get compliments. 

We had a few more questions so we followed up with the event organizer, Syreeta Gates. 

EDC: What were some of the inspiration lyrics? 

Syreeta Gates: As an example the lyric "And get riced up, some Japanese baby salmon." by Raekwon with Chef JR (Kitchen Cray) team made a salmon dish. Chef Duan's team had the lyric "Make these Hittas* sick, chicken noodle soup" by Shy Glizzy which inspired a numeric ginger noodle soup. 

Other lyrics for the event included: 

  • When it's beef, know I'm down to ride - Yung GleeshChef Meshach Ciscero
  • But my Rasta partna still know how to stew chicken - Chaz FrenchChef Matthew Loftus
  • Got beef with radio if I don't play they show - Jay ZChef Rabia Kamara
  • Beef is only good if you in the burger business -FabolousChef Damian Brown

You can learn more about the Stay Hungry organization here

Chef Adam: It’s a cliche, but I always get more out of these experiences than the kids do. It opens my eyes to how much more I can do, and if I can get through to one kid, I feel like I’m helping make their lives better.