How to Enjoy the Cherry Blossom Season in DC

“Hanami” like a pro: Our tips, an event round-up & a cheery cherry Cosmo recipe!

By Thomas Martin, Edible DC Contributor

The Tidal Basin full bloom. Photo by Hannah Hudson.

The Tidal Basin full bloom. Photo by Hannah Hudson.

The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival is peak outdoor time, with stunning rosy vistas of trees are transformed into clouds. And DC doesn’t disappoint locals and tourists with ample opportunities for hanami, the Japanese word for cherry blossom viewing. Although the stars of the celebration are the flowering trees, this annual festival encourages us to welcome spring with arms wide open and remember the international spirit of goodwill that spurred Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to give 3,000 cherry blossom trees to the United States in 1912.

The Tidal Basin is a classic destination—though to beat the crowds, you might want to come very early in the morning or late in the evening. You could even arrange a yozakura, or a nighttime hanami celebration, with your friends.

So, how to enjoy? We’ve got ideas.

Build an all local picnic basket and think pink!

Here are some food and drink items we love that you might incorporate into your hanami picnic basket: 

Astro Doughnuts
This beloved spot for fried chicken doughnut sandwiches is bringing back their iconic cherry blossom doughnut on March 18, featuring a cream cheese glaze and a decadent filling of cherry jam. (Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken, 1308 G St NW)

Courtesy of Scott Suchman

Courtesy of Scott Suchman

Bullfrog Bagels
Maintaining three locations around the District, Bullfrog Bagels offers a variety of bagels that are hand-rolled, boiled, and baked on the premises. (Bullfrog Bagels, 317 7th St SE, 1341 H St NE, 2800 10th St NE)

Capital Kombucha
Capital Kombucha’s special-edition cherry blossom kombucha is made with cherry purée, rose water, and honey, and makes for a satisfyingly cool beverage to finish off a picnic on a warm spring day. (Capital Kombucha drinks can be found in Trader Joe’s, Yes! Organic Market, Sweetgreen, and elsewhere.)

Photo by Hannah Hudson

Photo by Hannah Hudson

JRINK
Always dedicated to promoting seasonal flavors, JRINK will release “Spring Me Up”, a hibiscus almond milk, this spring to help you celebrate hanami with a chic-looking beverage. (Locations in Foggy Bottom, Adams Morgan, Union Market, and more. See all locations here.)

The Capital Candy Jar
This local confectionery is releasing several cherry blossom-themed treats, such as chocolate-covered oreos, pretzel rods, chocolate bark, and popcorn. (The Capital Candy Jar, 201 15th St NE)

Ivy City Smokehouse
Ivy City Smokehouse’s smoked salmon would be a perfect accompaniment for a Bullfrog Bagel. Their smoked white fish salad would also make for a great bagel spread. (Ivy City Smokehouse, 1356 Okie St NE)

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Local Rosés
Some of Edible DC’s favorite local rosés would be great additions to your hanami picnic basket: check out rosés from Early Mountain Vineyards, Walsh Family Wine, and others here.

Seylou Bakery & Mill
This local bakery offers a wide range of baked good made with whole grain and organic flours. (Their flours are even milled in-house!) Vegan and wheat-free treats are also available. (Seylou Bakery & Mill, 926 N St NW Suite A)

Last but not least…check out the delicate spring produce from your local farmers markets!
With the tender season comes a wealth of new offerings at the DMV’s many local farmers markets. Here’s a list of some of our favorites.

Or...go out and try the seasonal specials, events and classes at local restaurants!

Reknowned Chef Daniel Boulud and Executive Chef Nicholas Tang are hosting a special dinner on April 5 at DBGB in CityCenter DC.

Reknowned Chef Daniel Boulud and Executive Chef Nicholas Tang are hosting a special dinner on April 5 at DBGB in CityCenter DC.

Ticket me this: On Friday, April 5th chef and restaurateur, Daniel Boulud, alongside Executive Chef Nicholas Tang, will host a ticketed spring feast dinner at DBGB, in celebration of Washington, D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival. Chefs Daniel and Nicholas will prepare a four-course prix-fixe menu with paired wines, in DBGB’s main dining room, located in CityCenterDC. Guests can purchase tickets for $148 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) by visiting the website, and reservations are available any time between 5 p.m. – 10p.m. Chef Daniel will be present throughout the night to chat with guests and introduce each course.

A truffle making class at the Willard InterContinental on April 6 will feature a top chocolate maker, SPAGnVola.

A truffle making class at the Willard InterContinental on April 6 will feature a top chocolate maker, SPAGnVola.

On April 6, the Willard InterContinental and SPAGnVola, recognized by National Geographic as one of the world’s best chocolate shops, will host a two-hour hands-on chocolate truffle making class. Guided by Head Chocolatier Crisoire Reid from SPAGnVOLA, participants will learn the artisan technique of tempering chocolate, the process of making chocolate ganache, and the steps to using ganache to handcraft your own delicious truffles to take home. Attendees will also have the opportunity to taste a variety of SPAGnVOLA’s signature bon-bon’s and truffles all while hearing from Eric Reid co-owner of SPAGnVOLA, on his experience as a cacao grower, and chocolate maker. Time: 3-5 p.m. Price: $65 per person or $100 per couple.

At Buttercream Bakeshop, cake designers and dessert superstars, Tiffany MacIsaac and Alex Mudry-Till are doing a twist on a childhood favorite, the Hoho just for Cherry Blossom season. The snack cakes are rolled up and filled with a Cherry Buttercream Icing inside. Available as a special for $4.50 each.

BOURBON STEAK at Four Seasons is gives a nod to Japan and its gift of our beloved cherry trees, as executive chef Drew Adams presents his version of a Katsu Sando: richly marbled cuts of A5 New York Strip Steak, accompanied by aromatic Shiso, Pickled Turnip, and rich Rutabaga Sauce, built on a sandwich on an authentic Japanese Milk Bread Parker House Roll. The savory combination is artfully served in a Bento Box – crafted from the Sakura wood of cherry blossom trees, and is available for $100. The restaurant will also be debuting a Sakura Spritz cocktail for $18, made with Raw Honey Syrup, Lindera Farm's Cherry Blossom Vinegar, Yuzu, Roku Gin, topped with soda.

Sour Cherry-Yuzu Gyoza at The Occidental Grill & Seafood

Sour Cherry-Yuzu Gyoza at The Occidental Grill & Seafood

Occidental Grill & Seafood is celebrating with an effluvious Sour Cherry-Yuzu Gyoza for $10. The fried "dumpling" dessert has a Sour Cherry-Yuzu Filling, a blend of cherry jam and yuzu syrup. Served alongside of a scoop of fragrant, Cherry Blossom Gelato. Yum!

At the Watergate! Cherries Jubilee.

At the Watergate! Cherries Jubilee.

At the Watergate Hotel's The Next Whisky Bar, a delicious special for the season is the Cherries Jubilee to share for $19, presented with Macaron Cherry Blossom Cremeux and Nougatine.

The Cherry Blossom Cosmo at Oceanaire.

The Cherry Blossom Cosmo at Oceanaire.

Oceanaire is featuring cherry-themed cocktails in honor of the season. Cocktails are priced at $14 each and will be available through the month of April, the In Bloom and the Cherry Blossom Cosmo. They were kind enough to share the recipe!

The Cherry Blossom Cosmo

1.5 ounces of Grey Goose Cherry Noir

1 ounce of lemon juice

1 ounce of cranberry juice

1/2 ounce of Aperol

1/2 ounce of simple syrup

Luxardo cherries

Shake all the ingredients with ice, strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a luxardo cherry.




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Thomas Martin is a junior at Yale University working toward his bachelor’s in English. A native of La Plata, MD, Thomas has worked as an intern, writer and social media specialist at Edible DC for a year.


















































































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My Souvenir from Baja is this Salsa Recipe

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Edible DC Afield notes from San José del Cabo

By Susan Able

Sometimes a memory is the best thing to bring back from a vacation, and I’ve got a great one that makes a Baja Mexican breakfast with my family instant come alive again by recreating this salsa recipe. Truly, it is better than a T-shirt.

My husband and I with family and friends, recently gathered in San José del Cabo for a wedding at a farm called Acre Baja. Many of our us shared a large rental home near the farm, staffed a lovely women named Hilaria who made breakfast every morning. She would prepare large plates of fresh seasonal fruit, eggs and homemade tortillas, chilaquiles; everything savory was served with a spicy sauce that Hilaria called salsa.

Charred ingredients, onion and garlic are all ready for puree.

Charred ingredients, onion and garlic are all ready for puree.

When I typically think of salsa, my first thought is a roughly chopped vegetable onion pepper mix open to creative interpretation (in that it can take a fruity or beany turn) eaten with chips and draped over grilled things. Hilaria’s version was pureed smooth, hot enough to keep everything interesting, particularly scrambled eggs and beans. It has an upfront attention-getting kick, like a slap on the head, then a beautiful slow burn.

Here’s what she did:  She took four or five serrano peppers, (and that is important because they have their own distinctive heat rather than say, a jalenpeño) and then a few small roma-style tomatoes. She roasted both of these dry on a grill pan, no oil, till they were all charred. (Be forewarned that there is a fair amount of smoke produced.) Then she simply dumped everything in a blender, added a half of a small onion and a clove of garlic and some salt, poured water in to up to the level of about half of the ingredients, and hit the blend button. Done.

I highly recommend finding serrano peppers and trying this if you like a smoky heat. It’s a wonderful addition to your table.

Note the level of water as Hilaria gets ready to blend.

Note the level of water as Hilaria gets ready to blend.

Hilaria’s Salsa

5 serrano peppers, whole, with seeds, stems removed after charring

3 roma tomatoes

1/4 white onion

1 or 2 cloves of garlic

Sea salt to taste

Heat a grill pan or other heavy pan, such as cast iron, at the highest heat. Add the peppers and tomatoes (no oil) and let them roast until they are charred, turning them as you need to. It will be quite smoky, so use a strong vent or cook when you can open a door or window. (Of course you could do this on an outdoor grill with a grill pan as well.)

When finished charring evenly, put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Add a cup and 1/2 of water. Add salt to taste and blend until it is a smooth puree.

Refrigerated in an airtight container, it should last about a week, or you could freeze it.


And of course, a couple of pictures of the wedding venue. Acre Baja (@acrebaja) is near the famous Flora Farms, perched on a hill in San José del Cabo, above the Pacific Ocean and northeast of Cabo San Lucas. It is an organic farm on 25 acres, that also has a restaurant, bar, event space and elegant treehouses for guests accomodations, although they are also building other overnight space. We were greeted by peacocks and a burro named Burrito as we made our way to the pool for cocktails, and then the wedding was in a small field. A beautiful evening to celebrate love.

Native flowers gathered from the farm graced the table.

Native flowers gathered from the farm graced the table.

The wedding reception @acrebaja.

The wedding reception @acrebaja.

For the Lunch Bunch, A New Option at Convivial

Bibiana Debuts a $20 Prix Fixe Midday Bar Menu

Two delicious classics on the lunch menu at convivial, beef tartare and jambon beurre with homemade chips. @convivialrestaurant Photo by AJ Dronkers.

Two delicious classics on the lunch menu at convivial, beef tartare and jambon beurre with homemade chips. @convivialrestaurant Photo by AJ Dronkers.

By Susan Able, Edible DC

Award-winning Chef Cedric Maupillier has added has added a daily lunch at Convivial. In addition to the restaurant’s nightly dinner service and weekend brunch, lunch is now served and it is a hit for Shaw and the downtown business crowd looking for noonday options for a sitdown, full service lunch.

Think hors d’oeuvres like Roasted Cauliflower, Beef Consomme, Leeks Dijonnaise and his own take on the Lyonnaise salad that was a hit when Maupiller was cooking at Central. Now he says of my favorite French salad, “Try it, it’s even better—I swear I’ve perfected it.” Sandwiches and mains feature his classic burger and fried chicken sandwich as well as whitefish salad, quiche, and our favorite, Jamon Beurre—the iconic French sandwich served with homemade chips. Full entrees feature Mussels Mariniere, a Chive & Gruyere Omelette and Trout Amandine.

A classic Lyonnaise Salad with curly endive, bacon lardons, croutons all topped with a poached egg.

A classic Lyonnaise Salad with curly endive, bacon lardons, croutons all topped with a poached egg.

The complete lunch menu is here. Convivial open daily from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm at 801 O St NW, with parking available in a garage across the street, but midday there is also plenty of meter street parking.

Also new, Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca, has added a new fixed price menu for $20 (excluding tax and gratuity), available only at their new bar, Pranzo al Bar. Created by Executive Chef Loris Navone, guests can select a pizza, sandwich or bowl with a choice of a soft drink, iced tea or featured Italian wine, followed by a coffee, espresso or seasonal sorbet flavor. The Pranzo al Bar menu is available Monday through Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., at 1100 New York Ave, NW (entrance on 12th and H Streets.)

Salamander Resort & Spa Joins Short List of Forbes Five Star Resorts in the DMV

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Congratulations to Salamander Resort & Spa on being named to the Forbes Five Star Resort list. Only 210 properties worldwide share this designation, with just two new five star designations this year in the U.S.

“This award is a true testament to the extraordinary dedication our service professionals provide each and every day,” said Reggie Cooper, the resort’s general manager. “We all take immense pride in reflecting our the belief of our founder, Ms. Sheila Johnson, that every guest at Salamander should be welcomed as if they were entering her own home.”

Only a short drive from DC, the 340-acre oasis is one of our favorite staycation spots to truly rest and recharge. Start any stay with a massage in their spa, enjoy the year round heated pools and hot tubs — or venture out into picturesque Middleburg for shopping or tours of local wineries. Need ideas about wineries to visit? Check out our all local wine guide here

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In celebration of this achievement, the resort has created a Five Star Caviar Cocktail at Gold Cup Wine Bar and Executive Chef Ryan Arensdorf will be presenting a “Five Star, Five Course” menu at Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill. Pictured bottom left are two of the courses Dry Aged New York Strip and Applewood Smoked Maine Diver Sea Scallops from Harrimans. Pictured bottom right is cocktail at the Gold Cup Wine Bar created by Food & Beverage Director, Jacob Musyt.

Learn about at their website, www.salamanderresort.com

Your Perfect Day for a Margarita is Today

Friday, Feb. 22 is National Margarita Day, we’re here for you with some great options

Thyme margaritas @AcreBaja in San Jose del Cabo.

Thyme margaritas @AcreBaja in San Jose del Cabo.

By Susan Able, Edible DC

I have literally just stumbled off a red-eye from Cabo and I can safely tell you this, there is many a margarita to be had in Baja, California and that is a very, very good thing.

But now that I’m back and for those of you who love a good margarita as much as I do, what absolute genius gave the drink its own whole day? Friday, February 22 is National Margarita Day. Woohoo and good thinking on the part of tequila importers everywhere.

Where to start?

Why not at one of the most solid contenders around? The Oyamel Salt-Air Margarita. After a poll from Team Edible DC, we think the unique crustless airy salt foam rim on a classic margarita is one of our favs. Plus, is there a better place to get fresh chips and guac? They are soon kicking off their Tequila Mezcal Festival, so there will be much happening at the Oyamel bar well past Margarita Day.

The Cilantro Margarita at La Puerta Verde.  AJ Dronkers.

The Cilantro Margarita at La Puerta Verde. AJ Dronkers.

AJ is crazy about La Puerta Verde’s Cilantro Margarita which he swears is the bomb. In Ivy City, open at 5:00 p.m., with Happy Hour until 6:30 p.m. featuring $8 margaritas and $3 tacos.

One of our happy places is Espita Mezcaleria in Shaw. Beverage Director Megan Barnes is a top DC mixologist, and paired with their authentic tortillas and Oaxacan snacks, you can’t go wrong here. One of our absolute fav margaritas is their Mayahuel, a classic mezcal margarita with house espadín, real triple sec, fresh lime, ‘nogave’ and served up with a sal de gusano rim. Get in there from 4-6 p.m., the Mayahuel is half price and tacos are $3.

“The Swirl” at El Rey in frozen form. You can get them frozen or on the rocks, and by the glass—or a pitcher.  AJ Dronkers.

“The Swirl” at El Rey in frozen form. You can get them frozen or on the rocks, and by the glass—or a pitcher. AJ Dronkers.

If you are feeling fancy free, get your gang to meet you Friday at El Rey in Shaw for their swirled frozen margarita and a big plate of nachos. Oh yes! What a great way to celebrate this national holiday. El Rey serves up tacos & tequila in a space fashioned out of shipping containers.

Other ideas you say? We also love grabbing a margarita at El Centro DF on 14th NW, Haydee’s or Don Juan in Mt. Pleasant, Capitol Hill haunts like La Lomita Dos and Las Placitas. El Techo may be fast casual-ish, but the drinks are very good.

Another great idea? Leave work early and hit Mi Vida at the Wharf. Their Happy Hour starts at 3 p.m. and margaritas are $6.



Hosting an Oscars Party

Here’s Your Guide to Some of Our Best Recipes and the Movies

By TC Martin, Edible DC Contributor

Courtesy of  Pexels

Courtesy of Pexels

This Sunday, February 24th, the 91st Academy Awards ceremony will take place in the Dolby Theater in downtown Hollywood. If your tickets got lost in the mail like mine did, this guide is for you! Why not host our own Oscars party? It can be as exciting as attending the real event—and you get to spend the evening with your friends instead of fighting tooth and nail for a selfie with any of the nominees or god forbid, a Kardashian.

If decide to gather a gang and host your own Oscars party this awards season, remember that when it comes down to it, all great Oscars parties involve just three basic elements: the food, the viewing, and the details. If you ace those, your evening is sure to be fun and memorable (so long as your favorite nominee doesn’t get robbed).

Part I: The Food 

Recipes abound for Oscars parties, but a quick perusal of what’s out there reveals countless popcorn-heavy menus, as well as platters of shareable appetizers that would better serve a Superbowl party than an Oscars party.

This year, Edible DC rounded up some of our best recipes for home entertaining.

Winter Rosemary Galette

Just yum. If this was your favorite movie, perhaps you will agree that something savory, elegant and slightly exotic is needed here. Make a Winter Rosemary Galettes featuring squash, goat cheese and prosciutto. It can serve four people, or it can be cut into smaller slices to be shared as an appetizer.

Chicken Andouille and Shrimp Jambalaya

This Chicken, Andouille, and Shrimp Jambalaya recipe from Executive Chef Rusty Holman at Bayou can be made in large batches and served with cornbread and a green salad to satisfy a large gathering.

 

Coconut Poached Chicken Bon Choy Salad

Chef Johanna Hellrigl, of Doi Moi, shared this delightful recipe for Coconut Poached Chicken Bok Choy Salad last year. Showcasing Thai chilies, fresh herbs, and bright flavors like lime and coconut, this salad serves four, and can be made in larger batches for bigger groups.

 

Wadi Rum Cocktail

On the topic of this incredible Wadi Rum Cocktail, Chris Hassaan Francke, owner of the Green Zone in Adams Morgan, said “It’s boozy, it’s hot, it’s smoky, and it’s a little bit of sweet. What more do you want in a wintertime drink?”

 

Tuscany Country Soup

This Tuscan Country Soup from Jim Courtovich makes a flavorful soup with finely chopped pancetta to keep you warm during the winter months. Top with as much freshly-grated Parmesan as you heart desires.

 

Italian Love Cake

Pay homage to Lady Gaga’s Oscar nominations for Best Original Song and Best Actress by dishing up a dessert that echoes Gaga’s Italian ancestry: this Italian Love Cake serves eight to ten.

 

Part II: The Viewing

On Sunday, February 24th, red carpet coverage of the Oscars will begin at 6:30 pm EST, followed by the awards at 8:00 pm EST. The Oscars will air live on ABC, so for those of you who haven’t cut the cable cord yet, watching this Sunday’s awards ceremony will be as easy as flipping to Channel 7 on your TV. If you’re streaming on a device, things get a bit trickier. Nobody wants technical difficulties to cut your Oscars viewing before it even begins, so it’s best to make your streaming plan ahead of time. If you’re streaming on a device but still have access to a cable subscription, ABC’s streaming service ABC Go will let you stream the Oscars for free. If you don’t have access to a cable subscription, live TV streaming services are your best bet. Hulu with Live TV will let you stream ABC and watch the awards live (Hulu offers a free one-week trial), but other sites like fuboTV and Sling TV won’t give you access to ABC’s coverage.

 

Part III: The Details

The food and the viewing are crucial to your Oscars party; what makes the night not merely enjoyable but memorable, however, are the extra details. Here is where your creativity can shine through. Try giving your guests hand-lettered paper invitations instead of a Facebook event request or a quick text; it’ll last longer and mean much more to them. Consider crafting your own film-themed cocktails if you’ve got the time and extra hands, or put a new Hollywood twist on some of your reliable drink recipes with anything from simple garnishes to flashy glitter (be sure to buy the edible variety, though). And although there’s no reason to break the bank for one night of Hollywood glamour, bring together some décor that evokes the very event you’re celebrating. Accents like specialty drink glasses, coasters, drink carts, fresh flowers, candles, and anything else you feel adds ambience to your entertainment space are sure to be appreciated by your guests.

Keep these three elements (food, viewing, and details) in mind, and your party Sunday night is sure to be a blockbuster! If you’re looking to go out to watch the Oscars, there’s no shortage of events happening in the DC area. Commissary DC is offering an Oscars Night mixology class at their P Street location where guests will learn how to make three Oscar-themed cocktails, and Dyllan’s Raw Bar Grill in Georgetown is hosting an Oscar in Style Soirée featuring “several epicurean treats from Dyllan’s menu, passed assortment of hand rolled sushi, and bubbly served all night long.” Other Oscars-related events can be found here.